Gambia has banned female genital mutilation (FGM) and set penalties of up to life in prison for offenders of the new law.
The country’s parliament passed a bill criminalising FGM on 28th December 2015, a month after president Yahya Jammeh promised to end the practice, which causes lifelong health complications.
Those who break the law face fines of 50000 Dalasi (US$1250), or three years in prison. Offenders who cause death by FGM could face life sentences.
The bill makes Gambia the 27th sub-Saharan African country to legislate against FGM. As much as 80% of Gambian women have been cut as of 2010.
Motivations for female genital cutting are complex and difficult to change, but more African states are launching official bans. Nigeria outlawed FGM last year. Somalia, where female cutting rates are the highest, has said it would also like to stop the practice. Data from UNICEF indicates that as many as 98% of women in Somalia have been cut. Uganda is however the lowest country, with only 1% of its women being cut.