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.
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.”