In late November of last year, the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh stunned the world with his announcement that he was officially banning the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in his West African country. Many advocates and activists applauded but were skeptical, and reserved their celebrations until they saw the implementation.
Last week, President Jammeh’s Parliament passed the bill to ban the practice of female genital mutilation in that country. According to the Washington Post, the bill imposes strict penalties for offenders. Offenders could face at least a three-year imprisonment or a fine of the equivalent of $1,250. If the practice results in death, the offender could face life imprisonment.
The Gambia has been one of the practicing countries in West Africa with a high FGM rate. Seventy-Six Percent of women in the Gambia have undergone FGM, and 56% of girls by the age of 14 have already undergone female genital mutilation.
In the Gambia, FGM is performed by cutting the genitals and then stitching closed the remaining skin so that the women do not have or enjoy sexual intercourse. In the aftermath, it can lead to tetanus, gangrene, HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.