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EU adopts human rights resolution to repeal Female Genital Mutilation ban in Gambia

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EU adopts human rights resolution to repeal Female Genital Mutilation ban in Gambia
Opponents of the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) gather outside the National Assembly in Banjul, The Gambia, on March 18, 2024. Lawmakers voted to advance a highly controversial bill that would lift the ban on FGM. Muhamadou Bittaye/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union, EU, on Thursday, during its plenary session, adopted a human rights resolution to repeal Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and female circumcision in Gambia.

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, female circumcision is considered internationally a violation of the human rights of girls and women and members of the EU parliaments (MEPs) have since raised concern over the potential repeal of the FGM/C ban in the Gambia.

The MEPs warn that The Gambia risks being the country in the world to reverse the legal protection against female genital mutilation (FGM) and urged the Gambian Parliament to reject a proposal to repeal the current FGM law and to uphold the practice’s criminalisation.

They also urged the Gambian government to strengthen its efforts to ‘prevent’ and ‘eliminate’ FGM through enforcement measures, education and collaboration with international partners.

We are ready to support the government and civil society in community engagement to combat FGM, assist survivors, and defend women’s rights, says the EU parliament.

Meanwhile, following the 535 members who voted in favour, one against, and one abstention, the MEPs resolutely agree that FGM should “urgently” and “systematically” be raised with the Gambian authorities by the EU Commission and the European External Action Service.

The Gambian parliament, on the other hand, banned female genital mutilation eight years ago and is now considering reversing the law that protects girls and women against female circumcision practices in the country.

However, the recent pushback gaining consideration in Gambia follows the religious undertone that flared up in August 2023, where three became the first Gambians to be fined for performing FGM.

Since then, the request to repeal the FGM ban has increased. However, it is only possible if Gambian lawmakers decide to reverse their long-held anti-FGM position, as scheduled to be deliberated upon in June 2024.

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