Campaigners welcome move to criminalise those carrying out FGM, but warn it will take time to eradicate practice entirely
Zeinab Mohammed Salih
Fri 1 May 2020
According the UN, 87% of Sudanese women have undergone FGM. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Sudan looks set to outlaw female genital mutilation (FGM), in a significant move welcomed by campaigners.
Anyone found carrying out FGM will face up to three years in prison, according to a document seen by the Guardian.
The council of ministers approved the new law on 22 April, but it still needs to be passed by members of the sovereign council, which was created following the ousting of former dictator Omar al-Bashir.
Amira Azhary, from the National Council for Child Welfare and a campaigner for the Saleema initiative, which campaigns for an end to the practice, said: “We expect that the law will be passed by the sovereign council and if that happens, it will be an expression of the political will in this country.”
True numbers of FGM victims could be far higher as countries fail to record cases
Sudan has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world. According to the UN, 87% of Sudanese women have undergone the practice. Girls are usually cut between the ages of five and 14.
However, because the practice is entrenched in Sudanese culture, activists expect it will take a long time to be eradicated entirely. “There is so much work to be done. This is a start, a good start,” said Fatma Naib, communication officer of the UN children’s agency, Unicef, in Sudan.