The declaration on Monday by President Jammeh to end the age-old traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation, has been greeted with an outpour of approval within and outside The Gambia. The President made the pronouncement at a time least expected and immediately the news broke out people took to social media to send an outflow of messages in support of his proclamation.
This ancient, widespread cultural obligation, practised on the grounds of some obscure concept of purity, where some or all of the external female genitalia is removed is harmful to women's health. It is usually done without anaesthetics or normal standards of hygiene.
The enduring effects suffered by victims of this injurious practice are numerous and include, severe pain, bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, injuries to nearby genital tissues and sometimes death. Bearing in mind the adage that health is wealth, the FGM ban is a boon to our quest for socio-economic progress.
The President's decision is all the more worthy of commendation because his pronouncement bursts the myth that FGM is sanctioned by religion. Therefore we should heed his admonition to stop using religion to justify practices that are injurious to our progress as a nation
The President's pronouncement, should be translated into action by the relevant agencies of Government and civil society as a matter of urgency. As we congratulate him for his unqualified commitment to the wellbeing of the girl child, we would like to encourage the legislators to make a swift follow-up in ratifying a bill that will criminalise the practice to ensure that the Presidential pronouncement will become law without delay.