After a debate in parliament, 23 ministers voted to uphold the ban, and 10 voted to repeal it.
A colourful market in The Gambia

Skin lightening or bleaching agents are widely used across Africa, but they have been banned in The Gambia since 1996, under former president Yahya Jammeh.

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

Adama 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 an unfair punishment.

But 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 voting to repeal it, an AFP journalist said.

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

Extracts from an Africa News article (original). Published 23 March 2021.