Will 2015 be the beginning of the end of FGM in The Gambia?


5 March 2015

The report details the prevalence of FGM and explores the political, anthropological and social contexts in which FGM is practised and shows variations between different ethnic groups. 

It also highlights how we can help end FGM in The Gambia where there is a growing momentum for change.

The Gambia is known as the smiling coast of Africa, a well-deserved tribute to its friendly people, but behind the smiles many of its girls and women are living with the pain and suffering of female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite increasing pressure to end the practice from activists within The Gambia and internationally, there is no national law against FGM and prevalence remains high with three out of every four girls being cut.

28 Too Many’s new report on FGM in The Gambia shows that the 2010 national prevalence for girls and women aged 15-49 years is 76.3%. This is a two percentage point decrease from the 2005/6 figure. Extracts from the forthcoming report based on data from 2013 show a further drop to 74.9%. The research also explores the political, anthropological and social contexts in which FGM is practised and shows variations between different ethnic groups. The Sarahule have the highest prevalence rate among women (97.8%) and the Wolof the lowest (12.4%). 

There are a number of challenges to tackling FGM in The Gambia. The lack of a national law against FGM needs to be addressed and despite an increased awareness of the harm of FGM, in most ethnic groups there is above a 50% support rate for continuing the practice.  There is a strong link between FGM and religion in The Gambia and faith leaders must be engaged in campaigns to end FGM. 

“There are signs of hope for ending FGM in The Gambia and our research shows a growing momentum for change,” states Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, Executive Director of 28 Too Many. “Activists and organisations working to end FGM continue to press for a national law against FGM and a draft bill is being prepared. In addition at conferences in 2009 and 2011, Islamic scholars have stated that FGM is not justified and the Government has included FGM education in the national health curriculum. The Gambia has also been a focus of recent media campaigns against FGM by The Girl Generation and The Guardian newspaper, led by high profile anti-FGM campaigners including Isatou Touray and Jaha Dukureh. We hope that 2015 will be a year of positive change for the girls and women of The Gambia and that this research will help those working to end the practice and support survivors living with the consequences of FGM.”