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National Assembly Approves Joint Committee’s Report On Women’s Amendment Act

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Inside the Chambers Of The National Assembly 

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

On Monday, the National Assembly Members adopted the report of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Gender and Health concerning the Women (Amendment) Bill 2024.

The report was presented by Hon. Amadou Camara, the co-chairperson of the Joint Committee, for consideration and adoption by the lawmakers.

In his presentation, Hon. Camara explained that the Joint Committee reviewed the proposed amendment clauses of the Bill thoroughly, relying on witness testimonies and position papers. He emphasized that the review process took into account the overall objective and ramifications of the proposed amendments, ensuring that the Bill aligns with the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and other national laws.

Following the presentation, the speaker of the house opened the floor for debate.

Hon. Almameh Gibba, the National Assembly member for Foni Kansala constituency, who had introduced the repealing of the FGM law, voiced strong opposition. He accused the committee of betraying the trust of the Muslim community in the country.

“As for the versions’ consultation stakeholders I have done, I have seen biases that it does not reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people. We are talking about a population of 2.6 Million. Hon. Speaker, I am going through this report of sixteen pages. The Chair of the committee keeps emphasizing FGM, and the act we are working to repeal is the prohibition of female circumcision. We are here to correct the wrong. Be brave enough to speak the truth,” he added. 

Hon. Gibba declared that they are prepared to engage in a guerilla war if their sisters or mothers are imprisoned for practicing their culture.

He argued that the report was inappropriate for its purpose, being borrowed and influenced by Western donors.

Hon. Gibbi Mballow, the National Assembly Member for Lower Fulladou, emphasized that women in The Gambia deserve better, and the report is intended to support their improvement.

“The era of the razor blade is ending today; the era of the knife has to end; the women of this country deserve better, and this report is here for that betterment. You cannot hide behind Islam and want to inflict pain that has a gross negative aspect. Enough is enough, the women of this country have suffered a lot,” he said. 

Hon. Amie Colley, the National Assembly member for Foni Berefet constituency, also expressed dissatisfaction with the report.

“As a member of the committee, I am not in support of this report, and the recommendation. We were supposed to do a constituency consultation, which we never did,” she said. 

Lamin Ceesay, the National Assembly Member for Kiang West constituency, criticized the report for lacking sufficient information and failing to provide data on complications and deaths caused by the practice.

Following a heated debate, the speaker called for a vote on the adoption and consideration of the report. The results were 35 members in favor, 17 against, and 2 members absent.

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