Gambia parliament bans female genital mutilation, sets strict penalties for offenders

Gambia's parliament has passed a bill banning female genital mutilation and setting strict penalties for offenders.

The new law says a person who engages in female circumcision could face up to three years in prison or a fine of $50,000.

The bill, passed Monday by parliament, comes after President Yahya Jammeh condemned the practice in November.

Female genital mutilation is practiced in more than half of African countries. It entails the complete or partial removal of the external genitalia of women and girls for nonmedical reasons.

In 2010, female genital mutilation was carried out on nearly 80 percent of Gambian women and girls aged 15 to 49, according to UK-based charity 28 Too Many.

Dr. Isatou Touray, who campaigns against the practice, lauded the passing of the bill.