AVOID MUSLIM GAMBIA
The Gambia is continental Africa's smallest country and it is one of the poorest in the region when it comes to GDP per capita. The principal ethnic groups are the Wollof and the Mandinka the former living mainly in the capital city of Banjul, while the latter constitute the single largest people of The Gambia. National identity is replacing ethnical identity, making The Gambia a melting pot of West African ethnic groups.
In The Gambia, domestic violence, including abuse, occasionally is reported, and its occurrence is believed to be fairly common. Police tend to consider these incidents to be domestic issues outside of their ordinary jurisdiction. Rape and assault are crimes under the law. The law does not differentiate between married and unmarried women in this regard. Laws generally are enforced. Neither sexual harassment nor de facto sexual discrimination are believed to be widespread. female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread, especially in the countryside.
Life expectancy: Male: 51.29 years; female: 55.16 years (2000 est.)
Infant mortality: 79.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Literacy rate: Total population: 38.6%; male: 52.8%; female: 24.9% (1995 est.)
Medical services: 0.09 doctors each 1.000 inhabitants.
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Religious data: Of a population of 1.33m, about 80.0% are Muslims, 11.2% are followers of African religions. 7.8% are Christians of different denominations including Anglicans, Methodists, and Roman Catholics. The majority of Gambians are strict in their religious practices. There is, however, no fanaticism and amity prevails between religious and ethnic groups.
Families tend to educate their sons before their daughters. Women are most often employed in some kind of farming endeavors. Numerous childbirths are the norm.
Shari'a law usually is applied in divorce and inheritance matters for Muslims, who make up approximately 80 percent of the population. Women normally receive a lower proportion of assets distributed through inheritance than do male relatives. Marriages often are arranged and, depending on the ethnic group, polygyny (polygamy, where one man marries several women) is practiced. Women in polygynous unions have property and other rights arising from the marriage. They have the option to divorce, but not a legal right to approve or be notified in advance of subsequent marriages.
Active women's rights groups exist, which are focused primarily on economic issues and the elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM).
sensitivity in society
Traditional views of women's roles result in extensive societal discrimination in education and employment. Families frequently educate male children before female children. Females constitute about 40 percent of primary school students and roughly 1/3 of high school students. Employment in the formal sector is open to women at the same salary rates as men. No statutory discrimination exists in other kinds of employment; however, women generally are employed in endeavors such as food vending or subsistence farming.
Depending on the ethnic group, marriages are often arranged and polygyny is practiced. Women have the option to divorce, but not a legal right to approve or be notified in advance of subsequent marriages. Gambian women give birth to 5.75 children on average.
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, language, or social status, and the Government generally respects these prohibitions.
Access to potable water: 69%
Medical services: 0.07 doctors each 1.000 inhabitants. 60% of total population has no access to health services
Maternal mortality rate: 1.100/100.000.
Infant mortality: 79.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Between 60 and 90% of girls undergo this procedure (est.). Seven of the nine major ethnic groups practice FGM at ages varying from shortly after birth until 18 years old. The practice of female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is widespread and entrenched. Reports place the number of women having been subjected to FGM at between 60 and 90 percent. Seven of the nine major ethnic groups practice FGM at ages varying from shortly after birth until 18 years old. In recent years, the Government publicly has supported efforts to eradicate FGM and discourages FGM through health education. However, the Government has not passed legislation against FGM, and FGM is not considered a criminal act. In February President Jammeh stated publicly that the Government would not ban FGM, and that FGM is a part of the country's culture.
Women activists are very much engaged fighting FGM in rural areas. One activist leader told afrol. that responses among men in general were surprisingly positive. However, there were substantial resistance among rural women concerning this issue. Muslim leaders have, under pressure from women activists, officially stated in the media that Islam should not be used as an excuse for carrying through the practice of FGM.
Domestic violence, including abuse, occasionally is reported, and its occurrence is believed to be fairly common. Police tend to consider these incidents to be domestic issues outside of their ordinary jurisdiction.
Rape and assault are crimes under the law. The law does not differentiate between married and unmarried women in this regard. Any person who has carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16 is guilty of a felony (except in the case of marriage); incest is also illegal. These laws generally are enforced.
Neither sexual harassment nor de facto sexual discrimination are believed to be widespread, although individual instances have been noted.
Main sources: U.S. Department of State, CIA, Mundo negro
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