Gambian lawmakers have passed a bill criminalising female circumcision and introducing prison terms of up to three years for anyone flouting the ban.
The National Assembly voted by a large majority to write the ban into the criminal code late on Monday, a month after President Yahya Jammeh branded the practice outdated and ordered its
Vice-President Isatou Njie Saidy told legislators the new law would “enforce the constitutional rights of women and girls not to be subjected to practices that are harmful to their health and well-being”.
Female genital mutilation, or FGM, remains highly common in the Gambia.
Jammeh declared in November that the practice was not required by Islam—the religion of around 95% of the country’s 1.8mn population—and that it should be banished to the past, according to a government spokesman.
Jammeh earlier this month declared the Gambia an Islamic state.
Before Monday’s vote there was no specific legislation and prosecutions would have had to rely on existing aspects of the penal code, such as previsions dealing with grievous bodily harm.
The Women Amendment Act 2015 mandates a jail term of up to three years, a fine of $1,300 or both for anyone caught practising or involved in the organisation of FGM.
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