The sovereign council of Sudan passed a law criminalizing female genital mutilation. The past Friday, the justice ministry announced that the highest authority in the nation approved a law that criminalizes FGM. The sovereign council, which is the highest authority in the country, is composed of civil and military authorities. It adopted a series of laws that undermine women’s’ dignity in society—one of those practices being the age-old genital cutting, also commonly known as FGM. At the beginning of this year, Sudan’s cabinet approved amendments to the criminal code. The amendments advocated for punishment for those who carried out the operation up to three years in prison plus fine.
Escalated cases of FGM in Sudan.
The number of FGM cases in Sudan is relatively rising in the nations. This is a practice that carries traditional weight and, therefore, has been practiced for a very long time. Despite the world’s fight against retrogressive cultures such as FGM, new cases of FGM keep emerging every day. Countries that take part in the UN have strict laws against such practices. These practices are criticized as barbaric and have also proven to have major health effects later in life.
However, despite all these efforts, nearly nine out of ten girls in Sudan undergo FGM, according to the United Nations. Just like the name mutilation suggests, the process involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia. The procedure is usually non-medical; therefore, it is mostly done in unsanitary conditions and without anesthesia. The wound is then sewn shut, often causing infections, cysts after the operation. The process usually causes intense pain during the process and later in life during sexual intercourse. It also causes birth complications from which sometimes women die from too.
The Anti-FGM Campaign Continues.
Anti-FGM groups have been fighting against these practices through policies, campaigns, empowerment, and have deemed the practice as barbaric and dangerous. Indeed, the tradition can lead to countless psychological, physical, and sexual problems and, at times, even death. The watershed movement is part of the reforms that came from Bashir’s ouster.
“This is a significant stride for Sudanese women and shows how far we have come from,” Zeinab Badreddin said.
The United Nations Children’s Fund has also backed up the move. Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Khartoum, said that this practice violates the rights of every girl child and also has serious mental and physical consequences on the girl’s health.
Rights campaigners in Sudan say that tradition has spread to remote regions over the past three decades, where it was initially not being practiced. These places include Sudan’s Nuba mountains. Sudan anti-FGM supporters almost lost the fight in 2015 when the bill was discussed in parliament but shut down by Bashir. The president yielded to the pressure of some Islamic leaders. Yet many leaders have spoken out in support of the anti-FGM campaign.
The current reforms come a year after President Omar Al-Bashir was toppled. The later was toppled following many months of mass pro-reform protest on the streets where women play the key role. However, the fight against these retrogressive cultures and traditions continues in the country.