A Scoop of Hope: The Sudanese Government is Criminalizing FGM, Officially Ushering in a New Era of Women’s Rights

Sudan just entered a ‘new era’ for women’s rights in the African nation after the government approved an amendment to its criminal legislation stating that “anyone who performs FGM either inside a medical establishment or elsewhere faces three years’ imprisonment as well as a fine”.

According to UNICEF, “the amendment to the Criminal Law Article 141 was endorsed by both the Sovereign and Ministerial Councils on 22 April. All amendments proposed by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in line with UNICEF vision to promote child rights were also endorsed.”

Around 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM. A practice that’s unfortunately popular in at least 27 African countries, as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East, and Sudan is among them. The UN statistics show that almost nine out of 10 women and girls in Sudan have undergone FGM; a procedure that usually conducted by nurses, midwives or other medical personnel and it involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia which in most cases can cause fatal health problems; girls can bleed to death or die from infections.

Faiza Mohamed, Africa’s regional director for Equality Now reports that “FGM prevalence in Sudan is one of the highest globally. It is now time to use punitive measures to ensure girls are protected from this torturous practice” and that “having a law against FGM acts as an important deterrent, however, Sudan may face challenges in enforcing legislation. People who still believe in the practice might not report cases or act to stop FGM when they know it is happening.”

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