Gambian lawmakers massively vote against skin bleaching, the act remains illegal

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA:- Members of Gambia’s National Assembly have on Monday massively voted against the repealing of the Skin Bleaching Prohibition Act.

The bill enacted in 1996 under the influence of former president Yahya Jammeh, faced setbacks as many lawmakers believe the law should be maintained.

The the Skin Bleaching Prohibition Act was tabled today before the members at the third reading stage for consideration. Repealing the act would have also allowed the selling and importation of skin bleaching creams in The Gambia.

The bill as seen by Eye Africa TV outlined that the 25-year-old law was “found to be discriminatory against women and girls in The Gambia in furtherance of The Gambia’s international obligations and in line with the Constitution.”

However, a total of 23 National Assembly members voted against the repealing of the law, while 10 others voted to legalize skin bleaching.

“When the question was put for the members to vote for the repealing of the skin bleaching Prohibition Act or maintain the Act, the majority of the members of the National Assembly voted for the law to be maintain in the status book to Prohibite the use and importation of the cream,” Kexx Sanneh, Eye Africa TV’s Parliamentary Affairs contributor said.

The decision of the members, means any person who administers or applies on his or her body any cream or substance, that bleachesh his or her skin, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of D5,000.

Similarly, any person that sell or import any of the prohibited creams or substances commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of D20,000.

The Act that seeks to protect the rights of women in The Gambia was first tabled before the National Assembly in June last year, by the former Justice Minister, Abubacar Tambadou.

Critics of skin bleaching cite both moral and health reasons, because of the dangers they believe certain products pose.

Skin bleaching, mainly practised by women, exists in several African countries and among the black diaspora.

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