The Gambia has demanded EuroNews to retract a story and apologize after it reported that the nation of fewer than two million people together with Somalia and Sudan has a high female genital cutting prevalence rate.
The West African nation has a majority moderate Muslim population and female genital mutilation (FGM) is a deeply-rooted cultural practice.
The country’s strongman President Yahya Jammeh in November last year banned the practice and its parliament swiftly passed legislations criminalizing the practice.
At least two women are being prosecuted for the practice after a girl died in the southwestern region of Lower River.
Activists say the practice of FGM has been pushed underground with Gambian authorities saying only a few incidences have been reported since the ban.
The government’s spokesperson, Information Minister Sheriff Bojang accused EuroNews of “lazy journalism” and said the data used by the news agency is outdated. Bojang said a more up-to-date date is readily available if demanded.
“The reportage is at best lazy journalism and at worst a classic example of the jaundiced Western press being unable to extricate itself from the warped mindset conditioned by decades if not centuries of prejudice that condemns all news from Africa as bad news,” said Minister Bojang.
“It is poor journalism to rely on outdated data randomly sourced from the Internet when, updated information reflecting the current reality is readily available,” Information Minister Sheriff Bojang.
Gambia is one of the hardest places to get proper data or information from in Africa. The government operates under secrecy, earning it the name the North Korea of Africa. Foreign media personnel find it hard to access the country, the BBC has been banned from entering and last year, a permit given to Aljazeera reporters was revoked.
Many senior government officials have been sacked and prosecuted for giving “false information” and foreign reporters cannot operate without minders.
The Gambia’s government wants the EuroNews to retract what it called false news, set the record straight and apologize for the broadcast of misleading information.
According to a 2013 report, an estimated 76.3% of girls and women have been subjected to FGM in The Gambia with some as young as 7 days old going through the procedure. Campaigners say about a third of the women suffered health complications because of the procedure.
The Gambia is mainland Africa’s smallest country. It lies on the African western Atlantic coast and surrounded by Senegal to the north, south, and east. Authorities charged many journalists with publishing false news for reporting on issues contrary to the state’s version of events, pushing its media into self-censorship.