Gambia Just Officially Banned Female Genital Mutilation

It joins 18 other African countries that have banned the practice.

On the heels of Nigeria and 18 other African countries banning female genital mutilation, Gambia announced it'll follow suit in a statement made by government officials this week. 

According to The Guardian, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said the African country will no longer allow the practice — also known as FGM/C — to continue, effective immediately.

More than 130 women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have been subject to the practice, which entails cutting or mutilating the subject's clitoris. Though the practice isn't intended to be an act of violence, the ritual is just that. 

"FGM/C is a fundamental violation of the rights of girls and is a deeply entrenched social norm. It is a manifestation of gender discrimination," the U.N. reports. 

Rates have dropped significantly in recent years as attitudes about the ritual have shifted, but according to a report on FGM prevalence, even in the Gambian area with the least amount of females between 14  and 49 years old mutilated, the rate of FGM was still more than 50 percent. The highest was in a very rural area called Basse, where 99 percent of women and girls experience FGM. 

Policies such as Nigeria's and now Gambia's will contribute to hopefully eliminating the practice in full. 

Cover image: photosbyjenn via Flickr