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Skin Bleaching Remains Banned In Gambia, Says Parliament

Skin bleaching products in Gambia remain banned. This is following a debate and vote by the lawmakers in parliament.

According to experts, skin-lightening or bleaching agents, especially unauthorised ones, may cause multiple health risks such as scarring, blistering, nerve and bone damage.

Many have also argued that the practice is one of the negative effects of colonialism and imperialism.

The practice is widely used across Africa as well as South Asia and the Middle East.

Skin-lightening has been banned in The Gambia since 1996, under former president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years.

The former president fled The Gambia in 2017 after losing presidential elections to a relative unknown, Adama Barrow.

Barrow, during his administration, tried 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 an unfair punishment.

However, on Monday, several lawmakers argued in favour of maintaining the ban, citing health or religious reasons.

“The chemicals used in the production of skin-bleaching creams are hazardous to human health,” Momodou Camara, an MP, told the assembly.

Twenty-three MPs voted to uphold the ban, with 10 votings to repeal it, an AFP journalist said.

Other MPs were either not present in the chamber, or abstained from voting.

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