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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Momodou Posted - 05 Sep 2023 : 12:15:00
The Standard: September 4, 2023

By Amadou Jadama
Renowned Islamic cleric Imam Abdoulie Fatty has paid the fines imposed by the courts on three women convicted of carrying out female genital mutilation.

Mba-Yasin Fatty, 95, the circumciser, Nano Jalal and Kaddijatou Jallow mothers of the circumcised girls from the northern Central River Region village of Niani Bakadagi were last week sentenced to fines of D15,000 each in default to serve one year in prison for circumcising eight girls between the ages of four months and one year.

Over the weekend, Imam Fatty, an ardent supporter of FGM, led a delegation from the Islamic Enlightenment Society to Bakadagi and paid the D35,000 balance of the fine.

While presenting the cash to the women, Imam Fatty said the campaign against female circumcision in the country is part of the fight against Islam and that he and his cohorts will unhesitatingly continue to defend the practice.

He stated: “We have clashed with them so many times on this female circumcision issue, because all they are saying about it is not true and even the doctors who are Muslims confirmed so. In fact, there is no hospital in this country that can confirm that women died during their labour because they were circumcised. This campaign against female circumcision is actually a fight against Islam. But we are ready to sacrifice everything and we are not going to take even one step back.

“We want to tell them that anybody who blew the whistle on these women and those who arrested them and the magistrate who sentenced them and any other person who support them, we will curse them until we leave this world to ensure that Allah destroys them. That will deter others. We don’t want violence but enough is enough. Let us stop provoking and offending each other. We should follow the command of Prophet Muhammad. Instead, they are fighting Islam, but Allah will be the judge.”

Imam Fatty contended that women are openly selling sex in the streets, drinking alcohol, and engaging in all kinds of illicit and iniquitous behaviour which the activists don’t talk about on the false premise that those are rights.

“These FGM campaigners,” he said, “never talk about those issues, because they term them as their rights. But circumcising your child is not your right?” he asked.

“We the Muslims, we don’t want to help Islam, and that is why people are practicing female circumcision in secret. If we all agreed, we will do it openly without any secret because the government cannot jail the whole village talk less of the entire country,” he stated.

He said imposing the D45,000 fine on the poor women at this stage of the rainy season “callous”.

He continued: “May Allah blessed the former president Jawara. During his regime, people were practicing female circumcision. At the tail end of his government, Gamcotrap came in and they went to the West telling them that they were going to eradicate female circumcision in The Gambia. The year I was removed as the imam of State House Mosque, one Jaha Dukureh came from America and said she will make sure that female circumcision is banned in this country. She went and met President Jammeh at State House and they gave her the assurance that the president will embark on a nationwide tour and when he reached Kanilai, he will announce the banning of FGM in The Gambia. This ban was announced at a political rally in Kanilai and then made law.”

He said Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy objected to the banning but Jammeh imposed his power and make it as the law.

“Yahya Jammeh also declared The Gambia as an Islamic state. They all came out and condemned it in the strongest term because that empowered the Islamic religion. But the one against Islam which is the banning of female circumcision., they all remained mute. This is the hypocrisy, ” he chastised.

Speaking earlier, Alhaji Kebba Conteh the imam of Serekunda Market Mosque stated: “If we embrace one another, this will never happen because the one who reported this matter is a Muslim. Let us not allow to be divided as Muslims. This is not a Fatty Kunda issue. That is why we all came from Kombo.”

The village alkalo Sarjo Kanyi and imam Almamo Jaiteh told Imam Fatty and his delegation that they backed their stance.

In 2015, The Gambia amended the 2010 Women’s Act and criminalised the practice of FGM and stipulated several punishments.

The Islamic Enlightenment Society eponymously tasks itself with enlightening Muslims about Islam and defending its values.
5   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Momodou Posted - 11 Sep 2023 : 20:40:36
Understanding Female Circumcision and the Injury to Women’s Dignity
By Madi Jobarteh

In 1994, as a journalist with Radio Gambia I had the privilege of being the first and only Gambian journalist to interview the imam who came from Mecca to consecrate the State House Mosque. One of my questions to him was about the position of female circumcision in Islam. His answer was that female circumcision does not affect in any way, positively, or negatively the piety of a woman in Islam, noting that practicing it or not is irrelevant in Islam. He was one of the imams at Kaaba.

The conditional approval of female circumcision by the Holy Prophet, upon being informed of the practice, only means that practicing it or abandoning it does not contradict the Holy Prophet, hence does not affect the faith of a believing woman. All throughout his life the Holy Prophet never came to receive any injunction, guidelines or surah relating to female circumcision as he did for many other practices, human conducts, and issues. Therefore, what is true is that female circumcision was not an agenda or a requirement in Islam. Hence if it has been shown that the practice causes even the slightest harm then it makes sense to just abandon it. It is absolutely evident that today, female circumcision has no religious, cultural, health or moral value.

Research by several African and Muslim scholars including Cheikh Anta Diop of Senegal and Mohammed Emara and Mohammad Salim Al-Awa both of Egypt have noted that female circumcision is neither Islamic in origin nor required by Islam. In Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood touted its support for FGM as an Islamic requirement, respectable Muslim scholars like Dr. Emara and Dr. Al-Awa came out to say categorically that female circumcision is an anathema to Islam. In his book, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood in Contemporary Egypt: Democracy Defined or Confined?’ published in 2012, Mariz Tadros noted that the Muslim Brotherhood rejected these respected scholars not because of female circumcision alone but because the group has little to no appetite for women’s rights. It will interest the reader to know that Dr. Mohammed Emara is a 2024 nominee for the ‘The Muslim 500’, which lists the world’s most influential Muslims.

In his book, ‘African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality’, published in 1974, the erudite history, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, religion, and science luminary Cheikh Anta Diop noted that female circumcision was an African origin which was later adopted by Muslim and Jewish communities. The origins of female circumcision are rooted in Ancient Egypt where it was part of their belief system. In their belief, only gods carry the characteristics of both the male and female. For that matter both boys and girls had part of their genitals cut off to make them more clearly male and female, unlike the gods. From the foregoing, female circumcision is therefore a pagan practice which has nothing to do with Islam or Judaism originally.

Furthermore, the famed French anthropologist Marcel Griaule (1898-1956) who carried out a lot of research with the Dogon tribe in present-day Mali recorded the life, beliefs, and overall culture of the Dogon and surrounding communities. In his research about the reasons for female circumcision among the Dogon and Bambara people, he recorded that they believed that if the clitoris comes in contact with the baby’s head during birth, the child will die. They also believed, just like the Ancient Egyptians, that both the female and male sex exists in a person at birth hence it was necessary to rid the female body of the elements of maleness by cutting off the clitoris. They believed that the clitoris is the representation of the male in the female and therefore must be cut off to make the female remain a female.

Female circumcision is not just a cultural practice. More importantly it is a tool for social and political power in which women have to be dominated for the satisfaction and control of men. Female circumcision is at the heart of patriarchy in which men must dominate. Patriarchy holds that women’s role is to manage the home, bear children and submit to their husbands. This is why in the narratives about female circumcision, the issue of marriage is paramount as young girls are told that they cannot marry without being circumcised. In Ancient Egypt female circumcision was the main criteria for women’s marriage, inheritance, and social acceptance. Today, these ideas still prevail.

Therefore, what is the use and benefit of female circumcision in a society like the Gambia today? There is none other than to inflict sheer pain on girls and women unnecessarily but only for the maintenance of patriarchy and the benefit of men. Otherwise, I hereby challenge all my Mandinka fathers, brothers, uncles, male friends, and colleagues to show a single real and tangible benefit of female circumcision? To the uninformed and uncritical mind, female circumcision is a cultural practice and accepted by the Holy Prophet since time immemorial. That’s all one could say and nothing else.

When you do a critical analysis of the narratives and objectives of female circumcision from that religious and cultural perspective it is merely for the interest of men. For example, the idea of chastity is not about cherishing virginity and decency of girls first and foremost, rather it is primarily for and about the satisfaction and control of men. This is why Mandinka brides are ‘tasted’ sexually on that first night (dungdingkang) by their husbands to determine if the lady was chaste. For that matter, parents and society have to find ways to keep the woman a virgin, not for herself but for men hence female circumcision. The need for chastity is not required for men because, after all, a virgin man is unknown unless he tells you or is caught having sex.

Today, within the Mandinka society almost no man accepts the practice of ‘dungdingkang’ - that is the practice of having sex with their newlywed girls as old women wait outside so they can confirm the virginity of the bride first thing in the morning. The men reject it because they find it disrespectful, crude and totally inappropriate and unnecessary. Even though this is culture too, men and society frown upon it but then insist that female circumcision must be kept because that affects women. That is the highest expression of chauvinism.

Today 11th September 2023 shall go down in Gambian history as the Day of Betrayal of Women and Girls by Members of the National Assembly who spoke in favour of or support female circumcision in the Gambia. They have failed in their fundamental duty to create an equal and just society by identifying harmful and chauvinistic cultural beliefs and practices and abolishing them. These NAMs have demonstrated that they want to entrench injustice, inequality and violence against women and girls in our country.

This is in total violation of the Constitution under Section 17 that requires the Legislature to uphold, defend and protect rights of Gambians including women’s rights. It is in total violation of the Women’s Act and the Children’s Act which were all passed in the National Assembly. I call on all Gambians who believe in justice, equality and respect for women and girls to stand against any attempts from any quarter that seeks to impose FGM in this country. FGM is at the heart of the violations of the social, economic, and political rights of women and girls.

For The Gambia Our Homeland
Momodou Posted - 11 Sep 2023 : 13:10:29
Imam Fatty calls for social, economic boycott of FGM campaigners
September 11, 2023

By Amadou Jadama

A vocal defender of female circumcision, Imam Abdoulie Fatty, has called for a social and economic boycott of all those campaigning against the practice.

Delivering the sermon at the Friday congregational prayers at Masjid Zubair in New Jeshwang, Fatty said Gambians who are concerned about the purity of their faith should stop dealing with anti-FGM campaigners in the villages and settlements across the country.

He called on his supporters to stop patronising their businesses, attending their weddings, naming ceremonies, and funerals.

He ranted: “Anyone who denies what is recommended and accepted in Islam, is a kafirr (disbeliever) and campaign group Gamcotrap are kafirrs. They are turning our Muslim children including ourselves into disbelievers going against Allah and His Prophet…”

The Saudi-trained cleric claimed prominent Islamic scholars like Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad, Imam Hanifa decreed that female circumcision is Islamic. He also named countries that accepted that FGM is Islamic.

Fatty said the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America and the National Centre of Islamic Affairs of Malaysia among others have declared that female circumcision is obligatory on Muslim women

The imam challenged Gamcotrap to release a list of girls who died after being circumcised.

He called on Muslim youths associations in the country to launch a petition campaign for the repeal of the 2015 Women’s Act that criminalised FGM.

Imam Fatty has been engaged in a public spar with anti-FGM campaigners over the past fortnight after his association paid the fines of three women sentenced for carrying out FGM in Niani Bakadagi in Central River Region.
Momodou Posted - 11 Sep 2023 : 12:15:44

7th September 2023 - As a coalition of Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations dedicated to the health, welfare and human rights of women and girls in The Gambia, we come together to address the pressing social and legal concern relating to the practice of female circumcision, also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is a longstanding harmful cultural practice affecting the heath of women and girls.

In 2015, The Gambia took a significant stride by amending the Women's Act 2010, to explicitly criminalise FGM under sections 32A and 32B of the amended Act. However, despite these legislative measures, enforcement of the law has proven to be challenging, allowing FGM and its numerous consequences to persist, either blatantly committed or sometimes concealed from public view.

In August 2023, The Gambia secured the landmark prosecution and conviction of three women from the Central River Region, for being accomplices to the crime of FGM. This marked the first of such prosecution, eight years after the criminalisation of the practice. This milestone is a reminder of the need for sustained efforts to accelerate the eradication of FGM, to ensure the health, welfare and fundamental human rights of women and girls.

While we hail the significance of this prosecution, we express serious concern over the leniency of the Fine of fifteen thousand Dalasis (D15,000) handed to the offenders. The law (both sections 32A and 32B of the Women’s Act) prescribes a punishment of three (3) years imprisonment or a fine of fifty thousand Dalasis (D50,000) or both, for engaging in the practice of FGM or being an accomplice of it, respectively. Therefore, the D15,000 Fine by the court raises critical concerns about the adequacy of the response to the seriousness of the Crime. While the Law grants the Courts the discretion to apply reduced sentences and fines, we strongly urge the Government of The Gambia to consider an exception for offences which leave victims with enduring physical and emotional trauma, as well as the irreparable harm that victims of these crimes will carry with them throughout their lives.

Furthermore, some public figures have openly supported the convicted individuals and continue to publicly advocate for the continuation of the practice of FGM, despite section 32B of the amended Women’s Act 2015, criminalising the incitement or promotion of FGM. Such behaviour not only inflicts harm but also runs contrary to the principles of justice and the protection of women and girls.

While we condemn in the strongest terms, the action of detractors who leverage social and religious devotion to promote their personal agendas at the detriment of women’s welfare and rights, our commitment remains centred on the experiences and realities of women and girls who endure the trauma of this harmful practice; their lives bearing indelible scars while their bodies are reduced to political tools. Regrettably, thousands more in The Gambia are still vulnerable to falling victim to this ordeal. It is these women whose voices matter.

Today, as we have been doing for the past decades, we re-echo our call to the Government of The Gambia to fulfil its obligation to protect the rights and welfare of women and girls. As such:

1. We demand that the government and the Ministry of Justice impartially uphold the law and ensure that those who partake in, support, or advocate for FGM face appropriate consequences.

2. We demand for the protection of the rights and well-being of FGM victims. They merit our unwavering support, empathy, and access to requisite services.

3. We pledge to tirelessly raise awareness about the detrimental effects of FGM and replace this practice with culturally enriching alternatives that respect the dignity and well-being of our women and girls.

4. We invite all Gambians to stand with us in this endeavour for a Gambia where the rights and dignity of every woman and girl are upheld and defended.

We will not relent in our efforts to ensure that every girl and every woman in The Gambia, enjoys her fundamental human rights and has her dignity respected and protected.

Momodou Posted - 07 Sep 2023 : 13:18:00
September 7, 2023

By Olimatou Coker

The National Youth Parliament an organisation that promotes good governance, democracy and the civic rights of young people, has urged government to continue its efforts to ensure the enforcement of the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM).

Recently, a tense and emotional debate about this most divisive and contentious issue came to light when a court convicted 3 women for engaging in the practice outlawed since 2015.

Islamic religious leaders led by former state house imam Aboulie Fatty went to the defense of the women and accused anti-FGM campaigners of fighting against Islam and vowing to carry the fight to the end. The campaigners said the imam is inciting violence and called for his arrest.

In a press statement yesterday, the Youth Parliament commended the authorities for the recent successful conviction of people engaged in FGM and called on all stakeholders, including religious and traditional leaders, to support the ban and work towards eliminating the ‘harmful practice.”

“As an organisation that advocates sexual and reproductive health and rights, we recognise the harmful effects of FGM on the physical and mental health of women and girls. We believe that this recent conviction will serve as a strong deterrent to those who still practice it, despite the strong efforts led by government, civil society organisations and development partners against it. We are equally concerned about religious leaders supporting the practice in our country, to the extent of paying the fine of convicts and having audio messages in circulation against the laws of The Gambia,” the statement said.

According to the Youth Parliamentarians, they will remain committed to advocating for the rights of women and girls and promoting their health and well-being. ”We will continue to work with our partners to create awareness and promote behavior change towards ending FGM in The Gambia,” the NYP concluded.
Momodou Posted - 05 Sep 2023 : 12:16:34
Gamcotrap calls for Imam Fatty’s arrest
The Standard: September 5, 2023

By Aisha Tamba

The executive director of anti-FGM campaign group Gamcotrap, Dr Isatou Touray, has called for the arrest of Imam Aboulie Fatty for his comments ‘inciting violence against anti- FGM campaigners’.

Over the weekend, Imam Fatty travelled with a delegation from the Islamic Enlightenment Society to Niani Bakadagi to pay the fines of three women recently convicted by a court for engaging in FGM. Whilst there, Imam Fatty said, among other things, that Muslims don’t want to help Islam that is why people are practicing female circumcision in secret. He also said if all agree to do it openly the government cannot jail a whole village talk less of the entire country.


However, the head of Gamcotrap and former vice president Dr Isatou Touray, in response, told The Standard yesterday that the imam’s comments tantamount to incitement and called for his arrest.

“This is incitement to violence and therefore an emergency issue and I call on the government, the ministers of gender and health, the chief justice and the IGP to arrest Imam Fatty because if anybody stands against the law, the law should take its course. This is unacceptable and I appeal to the women to know that this is about their lives and the future of their children. This is also against the knowledge and awareness the women have gained from Gamcotrap and other organisations that have spent so much money and energy for this law to be in place and for us to continue educating people to make the right choices and to move forward with their children’s education, leadership skills and health,” Dr Touray said.

She advised Gambian women not to listen to Imam Fatty but stand up to support those who have abandoned the knife and not to go back to the practice. “If they go back to the practice, they are destroying their lives and their children’s lives and I don’t think that is what they want,” the long term anti- FGM campaigner said.

She reiterated that FGM is not a religious but a traditional practice. “They know that this is not religious injunction and has nothing to do with Islam but a harmful tradition that all agree can be changed. The law is to protect them and to protect the rights of the women,” she said.

Safety of Gamcotrap staff

Dr Touray further expressed concern about the safety of the staff of Gamcotrap and other activists fighting against FGM. “I am worried about their safety in case of anything happening to them because of this incitement by Imam Fatty,” she said.

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