The decision of the Council of Ministers last week to amend the criminal law to include FGM/C as a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment is a giant step forward in eradicating the practice. Once it is passed by the Sovereign Council, this will become a historic milestone in the fight for rights and freedoms of women and girls.
We must work to ensure this law is implemented
The spirit of this amendment is fully in line with Plan International’s commitment to build a world where girls and women can learn, lead, decide and thrive. For the past two decades, Plan International has been working tirelessly to end FGM/C in Sudan, together with women and child rights advocates, UN, non-governmental organisations, donors and activists within the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) and the Saleema movement, launched in 2008. To make this a reality, we must continue the fight to ensure that the law is implemented.
The work in front of us now is to ensure the implementation of this law
“This is just the beginning. Once law is passed, the work in front of us is to ensure its implementation and this can only happen if everyone – most importantly parents, leaders, girls and young women – are made aware of this decision and its repercussions.” said Anika Krstic, Plan International Country Director in Sudan.
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. This practice has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways. It robs girls of life opportunities and stops them from reaching their full potential.
3 million girls at risk of FGM each year
According to 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 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM/C is concentrated.
Sudan still has a very high prevalence of FGM/C, with 86.6% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 having undergone some form of FGM/C. Although there is some evidence this practice is declining among girls younger than 10, still too many girls in Sudan are at risk.
Plan International remains unrelenting in our commitment to end FGM/C in Sudan, working at grassroots community level and with decision makers at all levels. We call upon duty bearers in the post-revolutionary Sudan to continue this positive engagement, ensure protection and to fully uphold the rights of women, girls and children.
“Now that Sudan as a nation is strongly poised to criminalise FGM/C, we must prepare to implement this law through clear accountability and tracking mechanisms, appropriate resource allocation and a nation-wide awareness campaign to shift attitudes and change behaviours so that FGM/C can be eliminated forever.” said Ms Krstic.