UNICEF welcomed the historic move by the transitional government to criminalize female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) in Sudan. The amendment was endorsed by both the Sovereign and Ministerial councils on 22nd April. All changes are in harmony with the mission of UNICEF. The changes were made by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW).
Huge applauds to the persistent activism, including NCCW, women and child advocates, donors including the UK and Swedish government, UN agencies, and especially those who came together for the case under the 'Saleema Movement'. In Sudan, the rate of FGM/C is 86.6%, which is extremely high.
“This practice is not only a violation of every girl child’s rights, but it also is harmful and has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health,” says Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Sudan. The local government and communities must take action to stop this brutal practice. Every girl is Saleema.
We need to work very hard with the communities to help enforce this law. The intention is not to criminalize parents, and we need to exert more effort to raise awareness among the different groups, including midwives, health providers, parents, a youth about the amendment, and promote acceptance of it."
About Saleema Initiative
It was launched in 2008 by NCCW and UNICEF Sudan, to protect the girls from becoming a victim of FGM/C. The initiative aimed at promoting the abandonment of the practice at the community level. Saleema represents a girl, who is just the way God made them.
The movement increased interest in neighbouring countries such as Somalia and Egypt. It was then selected by the African Union Commission as a Continental Initiative to end FGM/C in Africa by 2030.
Article 141 of the amendment to the Criminal Act
There shall be deemed to commit the offence of female genital mutilation whoever, removed, mutilated the female genitalia by cutting, mutilating or modifying any natural part of it leading to the full or partial loss of its functions, whether it is inside a hospital, health centre, dispensary or clinic or other places.
Whoever commits the crime of female genital mutilation shall be punished with 3 years imprisonment and a fine or closing the premises.
The other amendments to the Criminal Act include:
Setting the age of the child at 18 as the beginning of puberty.
Criminal Responsibility from the age of 12.
Prohibition of the death penalty on anyone who did not exceed the age of 18.
Prohibition of corporal punishment.
Community service as an alternative measure to detention for pregnant and lactating women.