5 May 2020 - Sudan

Save the Children welcomes important landmark decision in Sudan to criminalise Feminine Genital Mutilation

Saada*, 10, with her cat in her home in Harar, Ethiopia. She attends a girls’ club at her school, which empowers girls and boys to talk openly about female issues, from child marriage and FGM to sanitation and menstruation.

Save the Children welcomes the passing of Article 141 to the Sudanese Criminal Law by Sudan’s Transitional Government, aimed at criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The move is an important step forwards in government efforts to adhere to its international commitment and advance girls rights in Sudan, and has the power to make a huge difference in the lives of millions of girls and women. 

Arshad Malik, Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, said:

Female Genital Mutilation is a grave violation of basic human rights and a dangerous contravention of the physical integrity of girls and women.

This practice is not only a violation of girl’s rights, it has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health. Introducing a national law is a great step towards eradicating the practice entirely. However, as FGM remains embedded in cultural and social norms, efforts must continue to increase community awareness on the harmful practice. Moreover, law enforcers, judges and community leaders in Sudan must be made aware and trained on and the new law to insure its effectively implemented.

We appreciate the actions the Sudanese government has taken to adopt new laws to prevent and to criminalize this practice, and we will continue to support the Sudanese government in the fight against FGM. In doing so, will continue to provide FGM prevention, protection and care services, and continue to raise awareness on the impact of FGM on girls, in order to eradicate this practice once and for all.”

FGM refers to the removal of all, or part, of the female external genitalia. It's also known as 'female genital cutting' or 'female circumcision'. FGM can cause a range of health problems, such as severe bleeding, problems urinating, cysts and infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

FGM is unfortunately extremely common in Sudan, with 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 having undergone some form of FGM. However, efforts from rights groups, including Save the Children, have resulted in a steep decline in the practice for girls under 14 years of age. The four states in Sudan with the highest prevalence of FGM have also introduced laws criminalising the practice over recent years.

Eric Hazard, Save the Children’s Pan-African Campaign and Policy Director, said:

“FGM violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity of girls as well as the right to be free from inhumane or degrading treatment, torture and cruelty, and many times, the right to life. Girls should no longer be subjected to this violation of their human rights based on cultural practices deeply rooted in gender inequality.

This decision should be a wakeup call for other countries on the continent who still allow FGM. African Countries need stronger laws that will protect girls and allow the perpetrators of this harmful practice to be punished. This is not enough, but this is a very important first step to change attitude and behaviour of communities.”

Save the Children is campaigning to end FGM and will continue to fight FGM across 21 countries in Africa.

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