Gambian Lawmakers Vote to Uphold Ban on Skin-Bleaching

Gambian parliamentarians have rejected a government proposal to lift a ban on skin-lightening products widely used across Africa.

People argue that the prevalence of this practice comes from colonial legacy even though bleaching agents used to lighten skins pose great health hazards.

Ex-President Yahya Jammeh banned the practice in 1996. The former president fled The Gambia in 2017 after losing presidential elections to a less known opponent, Adama Barrow.

Barrow’s government sought to lift the skin-bleaching ban last year, arguing that it discriminated against women.

Justice Minister Dawda Jallow also argued that criminalising people for using cosmetic products was a biased penalty.

Several lawmakers have argued in favour of upholding the ban, citing health or religious reasons.

Amadou Camara an MP representing Nianija constituency told the assembly yesterday that “The chemicals used in the production of skin-bleaching creams is hazardous to human health”

Twenty-three MPs voted to uphold the ban, with 10 voted to repeal it.  Other MPs were either not present in the chamber, or abstained from voting.

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