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Imam Baba Leigh Argues That Female Genital Mutilation Rooted in Culture, Not Religion

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Imam Baba Leigh

By Buba Gagigo

Imam Baba Leigh has weighed in on the ongoing debate surrounding female genital mutilation (FGM), arguing that the practice is cultural rather than religious in origin.

Leigh’s comments come in response to a proposed bill by National Assembly Member Almameh Gibba seeking to overturn the 2015 ban on FGM in The Gambia. Gibba argues that the ban clashes with the cultural and traditional beliefs of a majority of Gambian citizens.

The proposed bill, known as the Women’s (Amendment) Bill, 2024, is intended to address what Gibba perceives as a conflict between the ban on female circumcision and the deeply ingrained ethnic, traditional, cultural, and religious beliefs of the majority of Gambian citizens.

“I have witnessed before Jawara, witnessed Jawara’s time, witnessed others until today. At that time, the Ustases that supported FGM, when the law was passed, all of them were here and didn’t say anything. And everyone knows to circumcise a woman is not religion, it is culture, and it started during prophet Ebrima’s time. We are not strangers in Islam. Some are strangers, but I am not a stranger in Islam, I have learned it and I know it,” Imam Baba Leigh said at the National Dialogue held last Friday.

Leigh’s stance aligns with the Gambian government’s position, which outlaws FGM through the Women’s (Amendment) Act 2015. The act criminalizes the performance, procurement, and aiding and abetting of FGM/C.

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