Authorities in the West Coast Region (WRC), including Chiefs and Alkalolu have been sensitised on the amended Women’s Act, in which the banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is been criminalised.
Last November, the Gambia leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, Babili Mansa declared a ban on FMG in the country during a rally held in Kanilai.
Orgasnised by the Women’s Bureau, the sensitisation exposed the authorities to the amended Act in which they announced their commitment to stand for the welfare of women and girls.
Musa Suso, the Deputy Governor of the Region called on the authorities to be active players in the promotion and sensitisation of the Act. “We must ensure that we sensitise our people about the Act because when defaults occur, the law will not differentiate people,” he said.
Fatou Sey, Director of Training at the Women’s Bureau said the sensitisation is a follow up to President Jammeh’s announcement of the ban on the practice in the country. She said since then, the Women’s Act was amended with the inclusion of the ban on FGM.
According to her, they are conducting the sensitisation in all the regions of the country, calling on the authorities and the entire Gambian people to always heed to the Act.
Dawda Jallow, a legal practitioner said November last year, President Jammeh declared an end to the practice of FGM in the country leading to the amendment of the Women’s Act and assented to as a law by the President himself in December 2015.
“The amended Women’s Act has forbidden all forms of FGM and defaulters would go to a direct custodial sentence of three years or a fine of D50, 000 or both,” he said.
According to him, accomplices to FGM would also be punished under the Act to a fine of 50,000 or three years imprisonment or both. “The law now sanctions everyone who sees FGM happening and fails to report the matter and if found guilty, defaulters would pay a fine of D10, 000.”
Bafou Jeng, a state counsel at the Child Welfare Unit of the Ministry of Justice said women’s right have been captured in the 2007 revised Constitution and strengthened in the amended Women’s Act.
She told the authorities that their role is important in the enforcement of the Act, saying it prohibits slavery and other heinous acts against women. “The Act also gives right to women to live,” he said.
She said the Act also prohibits physical, economic and psychological violence against women, saying women have the equal rights as men.
by Amadou Jallow