African Union Bodies Urge President Barrow to Speak Up On FGM Bill

 

Expression of Concern by the ACHPR and the ACERWC over the Ongoing Debate on FGM and the proposed Women’s (Amendment) Bill 2024 in Gambia

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) recall its Joint Press Statement issued on 14 September 2023, in which it expressed deep concern on the current regressive Parliamentary debate advocating for the repeal of laws that prohibit Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia.

This follow-up Joint Press Statement is premised on the importance of addressing the unveiling issues concerning FGM and the recent developments surrounding FGM in The Gambia.

The ACHPR and the ACERWC recently received reports regarding a publication made on 6 February 2024, in the Standard Newspaper by the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly, proposing a Women’s (Amendment) Bill 2024, seeking to lift the ban against FGM in The Gambia.

The ACHPR and the ACERWC are deeply concerned that the lifting of the ban against FGM in The Gambia would reverse the progressive legal measures established in the Women’s Act of 2015, and would also be in violation of the rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights ( African Charter), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (the Children’s Charter), to which The Gambia is a State Party.

In this regard, the ACHPR and the ACERWC urges the Government of the Republic of The Gambia to take appropriate measures to discourage the lifting of the ban against FGM, in order to safeguard girls and women from the harmful practice of FGM; to prohibit through legislative measures backed by sanctions all forms of FGM; and eliminate harmful social and cultural practices affecting the welfare, dignity, normal growth, and development of the child, as enshrined in Article 5(b) of the Maputo Protocol and Article 21(1) of the Children’s Charter.

We call on the President of the Republic of The Gambia, H.E President Adama Barrow as Partner of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and an African Union Champion for Positive Masculinity, to add his voice to halt this regression.

Jointly issued by

Honourable Commissioner Dr. Litha Musyimi-Ogana

Commissioner Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Republic of The Gambia

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Honourable Hermine Kembo

African Union Special Rapporteur on Ending Child Marriage and Other Harmful Practices

African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child