BANJUL, 24 March 2021 – Lawmakers in The Gambia voted Monday to uphold a ban on skin bleaching, following a heated debate in parliament.
Gambia’s attorney general presented the draft bill on the prohibition of skin bleaching for consideration by MPs, according to a “To Do” list for parliamentarians posted on the body’s Twitter handle.
The government argued that criminalizing people for using cosmetic products was an unfair punishment.
A majority of parliamentarians disagreed, voting to uphold the ban.
“The chemicals used in the production of skin-bleaching creams are hazardous to human health,” one of the MPs who voted in favor of the ban, Hon. Momodou Camara, told the French News Agency (AFP).
The ban has been in force in The Gambia since 1996.
Former Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh, personally argued in favor of the ban and, as with most things that the tyrant wanted to be done during his over 20-year reign, the ban passed.
Skin bleaching bans are in place in a number of other African countries, including Rwanda with East African countries debating a bill since 2019 to outlaw skin scalping in the entire sub-region.
Scientists have now established that skin bleaching also known as chemical bleaching can lead to serious skin and health conditions.
Some of the worst impacts include permanent skin damage, the thinning of the skin, uneven color loss, blotchy appearance, redness, and intense irritation of the skin.