from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM – SUDAN’S decision to outlaw female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM/C) has been hailed as a milestone in the fight for rights and freedoms of women and girls.
The decision by both the sovereign council and the council of ministers in Sudan to amend the criminal law to include FGM/C as a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment is anticipated to end the practice.
“This is just the beginning,” said Anika Krstic, Plan International Director in Sudan.
Plan International has been working to end FGM/C in Sudan, together with women and child rights advocates.
It has been working with the United Nations, non-governmental organisations, donors and activists within the National Council for Child Welfare.
“The work in front of us now is to ensure the implementation of this law,” Krstic said.
“This can only happen if everyone – most importantly parents, leaders, girls and young women – are made aware of this decision and it’s repercussions.”
Rights groups argue FGM/C in Sudan is based on deeply rooted social norms, misconceptions and damaging gender stereotypes that impose control over women’s bodies and discriminate against girls.
It is believed this practice has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in developing countries across the world.
Sudan has a very high prevalence, with over 86 percent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 having undergone some form of FGM/C.
– CAJ News