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Gambian president officially bans female genital mutilation

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has banned female genital mutilation, branding the practice as outdated and not a requirement of Islam, the information ministry announced Tuesday.

President, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that female genital mutilation (FGM) would be outlawed in the Gambia, reported The Guardian. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the ban would be drafted into legislation.

Communication minister Sherrif Bojang confirmed the ban in a Facebook post shortly after midnight on Monday, writing: “Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been banned with immediate effect.”

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“The president said the decision to ban FGM is basically for the protection of the girl child,” Bojang told AFP.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 125 million women worldwide have undergone FGM, which involves cutting off the labia and clitoris, often when girls are young.

Jaha Dukureh, an anti-FGM activist, spent the past week meeting cabinet ministers in the Gambia and sent them articles from the newspaper to inform them about the issue. She expressed her elation to the Guardian: “I’m really amazed that the president did this. I didn’t expect this in a million years. I’m just really proud of my country and I’m really, really happy,” she said. “I think the president cared about the issue, it was just something that was never brought to his attention.”

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