The president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has banned the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country “with immediate effect.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the country’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang, made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Bojang said the president declared the ban on the sideline of his nationwide tour.
In their reaction to the development, anti-FGM campaigners said it was not clear when a law would be passed to enable the ban to be enforced.
They opined that a law was needed to “save countless lives” in the West African nation where three-quarters of women have been cut.
“President Jammeh’s declaration sends a clear message to the world, but enacting a law urgently will send an even stronger signal,” said anti-FGM activist Jaha Dukureh.
NAN reports that seven out of nine ethnic groups in Gambia carry out FGM, an ancient ritual which is shrouded in secrecy and widely condemned elsewhere as a serious violation of women’s rights.
The practice, which involves the removal of the external genitalia, causes numerous health problems which can be fatal.
Some girls even bleed to death or die from infections, while others die later in life from childbirth complications caused by FGM.