After banning genital mutilation last year, which he said there is no place for such practices in the modern world, the president of Gambia, HE. Yahya Jammeh has also banned teenage child marriages in his country.
“We need to protect our young girls, there future should not be cut off because of unnecessary marriages. I don’t want this to take place in my country”, he said.
The president told the people that if they don’t adhere with what he has said they will face consequences.
“If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see, we will impose stiffer punishments on those who will not obey” said the president.
The President said this during the celebrations of the Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. He further warned parents and imams who perform the ceremonies that if they will try to break the rules they will face jail sentence.
“I want parents and Imams to understand this; I will not take anything for granted, this is what I want everyone in this country to obey and adhere to what I have said. We should be concerned with the future of our children”, he said.
The President said that the government of Gambia would come out with stiff penalties and disciplinary measures against parents and husbands of victims. He said child marriage has over the years exposed victims to so many diseases that affect their health and that the practice must be stopped immediately.
He has called on chiefs, teachers, police and social workers to come forward with reports of such practices in their areas.
He said if someone doesn’t report such incidents which happens behind his or her doors will also face a stiffer punishment.
However some people have received this message with a cold shoulder saying that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences.