The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, has announced that the country will ban female genital mutilation with immediate effect.
The announcement came on 23rd November 2015, on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Female genital mutilation, or FGM, involves the removal of the labia and clitoris usually from young girls. It is a procedure which causes bleeding, infections and vaginal pain among other lifelong health complications.
More than 130 million women worldwide – many are in Africa and the Middle East – have been subjected to the procedure. In the Gambia, 76 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to it.
Following a campaign by anti-FGM activists and the Guardian, President Yahya Jammeh has said that the practice will be banned with immediate effect. However he did not make clear when the government would draft the legislation to enforce the ban.
“I’m really amazed that the president did this”, anti-FGM activist Jaha Dukureh told the Guardian. “I didn’t expect this in a million years. I’m just really proud of my country and I’m really, really happy”.