President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia has banned female genital mutilation (FGM) saying it is not required in Islam.
The announcement by the President which indicated that the ban was with immediate effect at a rally was met with a huge applause.
AFP reports that three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim dominated country have had the procedure.
In the procedure's most severe form, after removing the sensitive clitoris, the genitals are cut and stitched closed so that the woman cannot have or enjoy sex.
FGM, also known as female circumcision, can be extremely painful, lead to tetanus, gangrene, HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C and effective sterilisation.
It is not clear when a law will be passed to allow the ban to be enforced.
UNICEF has indicated the types of FGM as including Clitoridectomy; where partial or total clitoris is removed, Excision where the clitoris and inner labia (lips), with or without the outer labia is removed, Infibulation which involves the cutting, removal and sewing up of the genitalia and other type of intentional damage to the female genitalia (burning, scraping et cetera)