(CNN)Sudan's government has criminalized female genital mutilation (FGM), a government spokesperson told CNN on Friday, clamping down on a practice that most of the country's women and girls have endured.
Sudanese government bans female genital mutilation
An amendment of the country's criminal code was passed outlawing FGM, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the action fell under the government's commitment to international human rights agreements.
According to United Nations data around 88% of the female population in Sudan have suffered FGM, making it one of the world's most-affected nations.
"No doubt this article will contribute in addressing one of the most dangerous social practices, which constitutes a clear violation against women and a crime against women's rights," the Sudanese Foreign Ministry statement says.
The ministry called the move "an advanced step in order to terminate this predominant socially-rooted trend." It added that it "trusts the competence of the designated Sudanese authorities and their capacity and professionalism protecting and respecting women and enhancing their rights at a general level and particularly their health and social rights."
The Foreign Ministry highlighted that for this law to be successfully enforced, there needs to be a community effort and coordination between "all parties" in raising awareness of the issue through community outreach.
The Sudanese Foreign Ministry "indicates that the amendment of this law is a positive mark in creating a society where women enjoy all their rights including exercising their rights and duties," the statement adds.
The news was welcomed by UNICEF, which cautioned in a statement that midwives, health service providers, fathers, mothers, and young people need to be informed about the new legislation.
"This practice is not only a violation of the rights of every child, it is a harmful practice and has serious consequences for the physical and mental health of the girl," Abdullah Fadel," a UNICEF representative in Sudan, said in a statement. "Therefore, governments and societies alike should take immediate action to end this."