The Gambia - Social development

A national pension and disability system covers employed persons in quasi-government institutions and in participating private companies. The retirement age is 55, with early retirement at 45. Worker's compensation laws have been in effect since 1940. A special scheme exists for civil servants and the military. Agricultural workers and subsistence farmers are excluded from coverage.

Women play little part in the public life of this conservative Islamic country. Arranged marriages are common, and polygamy is practiced. Women face discrimination in education and employment. Inheritance rights, moreover, favor men. The painful and often life-threatening practice of female genital mutilation continues to be widespread and is opposed by organized women's rights groups. Domestic violence is widespread, and considered a family issue. Education for children is compulsory, in theory, but this provision is not enforced in practice.

Although constitutional government was presumably restored in 1997, the military retained political power, and human rights abuses continue. There were reports of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture.

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