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Unicef lauds Sudan’s criminalisation of female genital mutilation

May 8 - 2020 KHARTOUM
No to genital mutilation (File photo)
No to genital mutilation (File photo)

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has welcomed the landmark move by the Sudanese transitional government to criminalise female genital mutilation (FGM).

The amendment to the Criminal Law Article 141 was endorsed by both the Sovereign and Ministerial Councils on April 22.

All amendments proposed by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in line with Unicef vision to promote child rights were also endorsed, the UN Children’s Fund in Sudan stated in a press statement last Wednesday.

“This comes following years of persistent and forceful advocacy by all stake holders; the NCCW, women and child advocates, donors including UK aid and the Swedish government, UN agencies, international and national organizations, community-based organizations and community members, especially those who came together and publicly declared to join the ‘Saleema [intact]’ movement,” the statement reads.

“Sudan is considered one of the countries where FGM/C prevalence rate is very high. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) 2014, the FGM/C rate is 86.6 per cent. There is also evidence of decline among the younger age group 14-0 years from 37 per cent in 2010 to 31.5 in 2014.”

Abdullah Fadil, Unicef Representative in Sudan, commented that “This practice is not only a violation of every girl child’s rights, it is harmful and has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health,” says. “This is why governments and communities alike must take immediate action to put an end to this practice. Every girl deserves to be ‘saleema’, he added.

The Saleema initiative, launched in 2008 by NCCW and Unicef Sudan, supports the protection of girls from genital cutting, particularly in the context of efforts to promote collective abandonment of the practice at community level. Saleema is a word that means whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed, intact, pristine, and untouched, in a God-given condition. The broad objective of Saleema is to change the way that people talk about female genital cutting by promoting, at the community level, wide usage of new positive terminology to describe the natural bodies of girls and women.

Amendments

The following text was added to Article 141 of the Sudanese Criminal Law:

“There shall be deemed to commit the offence of female genital mutilation whoever, removed, mutilated the female genitalia by cutting, mutilating or modifying any natural part of it leading to the full or partial loss of its functions, whether it is inside a hospital, health centre, dispensary or clinic or other places.

Whoever commits the crime of female genital mutilation shall be punished with three years’ imprisonment and a fine, or closing the premises.

Other amendments to the Criminal Act include setting the age of the child at 18, increasing the age of Criminal Responsibility from 7 to 12, prohibition of death penalty on anyone who does not exceed the age of 18, prohibition of corporal punishment, and a community service as an alternative measure to detention for pregnant and lactating women.


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