The Gambia Press Union has urged government to discourage attempt to decriminalise anti-female genital mutilation law.

The union’s call comes as a bill seeking to repeal a law that bans female genital mutilation is tabled in parliament by member for Foni Kansala Almameh Gibba.

The practice was outlawed in 2015 when Yahya Jammeh was the president. But renowned Muslim clerics have been calling for the repeal of the law.

In a statement, GPU said: “FGM/C is globally recognised as a violation of women and children’s rights, a gender-based violence, and a negative social norm. Therefore, the media, in keeping with its own professional standards, must observe these guidelines in all coverages of the practice and any other harmful practices against women and children.”

The union also urged journalists and media houses to “uphold the rule of law and to hold anyone violating the rule of law to account, that certain acts contrary to these ethical guidelines may constitute a violation of certain laws including the Children’s Act, 2005.”

“We also encourage the country’s leadership and all arms of government to discourage this attempt to decriminalize FGM/C, which is intended to reverse years of advocacy, awareness creation, and progress registered for the social and economic benefits and progress of women and children in The Gambia.

“As a country, if there is anything good to protect, adopt and uphold from a 22-year brutal dictatorship, and to be at the same level of progress and to maintain progressive legislations as some of our peers in Africa and around the world, the ban on FGM/C should be maintained and the law enforced,” the statement added.

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