Activists push for a ban after Gambia leader denounces female genital mutilation

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Activists are urging Gambia to adopt a law against female genital mutilation after the country's leader voiced support for banning the practice this week.

President Yahya Jammeh was quoted in state media Wednesday saying the practice should be banned because he could not find any justification for it in the Quran. He is often criticized for human rights abuses.

But Amie Bojang Sissoho of the nonprofit Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices said Jammeh's statement means little without a law. Jeffrey Smith with the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Justice and Human Rights Center said Gambian lawmakers rejected a ban in March claiming Gambians "were not ready."

Female genital mutilation, widely practiced in Africa, is the complete or partial removal of the external genitalia of women and girls for nonmedical reasons.