Gambia’s parliament [official website] approved a bill on Thursday banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and setting high penalties of imprisonment and fines for offenders. The passage of the law comes a month after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh [official website] condemned the practice [BBC report] in November because it was not commanded in the Quran. According to UK based charity 28 Too Many [advocacy website] in a 2010 report, 63 percent of Gambian woman and children [report] aged from 14 to 49 have been subject to FGM.
The practice of FGM has been the subject of international concern. The UN has consistently campaigned for an end to FGM, labeling the practice, among other things, gender-based discrimination, torture, an affront to human dignity and an irreparable, irreversible abuse of the human rights of women and girls. In October 2014 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] praised [speech] the launch of a global media campaign against FGM, stating that “[e]nding FGM is part of the UN’s unwavering campaign for the health, human rights and empowerment of women and girls.” In July 2014 UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] announced [JURIST report] plans to enact new laws that will protect girls from the practice. In July 2013 noting the continued pervasiveness of FGM, UNICEF [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] a world-wide decline in the practice due to multiple campaigns intended to educate parents on the emotional and physical health risks associated with the procedure and its aftermath. In December 2009 Uganda outlawed [JURIST report] FGM. However, the majority of FGM procedures occur in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.