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Sudan bans female genital mutilation, UNICEF vows to help support new law

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the landmark move by Sudan’s transitional government this week to criminalize female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), with a three-year jail sentence for offenders.

 

UN News (02.05.2020) – https://bit.ly/2W9jd6G – “This practice is not only a violation of every girl child’s rights, it is harmful and has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Sudan.

 

Sometimes called female circumcision, the traditional practice involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for no medical reason.

 

“This is why governments and communities alike must take immediate action to put an end to this practice”, he added.

 

The move comes following years of persistent and forceful advocacy, including by the National Council for Child Welfare, women and child advocates, UN agencies and international, national and community-based organizations.

 

Estimates show that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

And Sudan is considered to have a very high FGM/C prevalence rate, which UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) revealed was at 86.6 per cent in 2014.

 

Rights violation

 

FGM/C has no benefits and not only poses immediate health risks, but also long-term complications to women’s physical, mental and sexual health in addition to their well-being.

 

A reflection of deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, the practice is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights of girls and women and as an extreme form of gender discrimination.

 

Moreover, WHO points out that every year, before they turn 15 years old an estimated three million girls risk being cut without their consent, making the practice also a violation of the rights of children.

 

And when the procedure results in death, FGM/C violates rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life as well.

 

And as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global community has set a target to abandon the practice by the year 2030.

 

Making it stick

 

UNICEF maintains that it needs to work very hard with communities to help enforce the new law.

 

“The intention is not to criminalize parents”, flagged the UNICEF representative, “we need to exert more effort to raise awareness among the different groups, including midwives, health providers, parents, youth about the amendment and promote acceptance of it”.

 

UNICEF is committed to eliminating all forms of FGM/C and will continue its focus on building a protective environment for children that safeguards them from abuse and exploitation.





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EU: MEP Assita Kanko: We are determined to put an end to Female Genital Mutilation

The European Parliament has approved a common resolution on a strategy to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) around the world, tabled by six political groups.

 

ECR Group (12.02.2020) – https://bit.ly/39KtgTQ – Speaking after the vote, ECR MEP and vocal campaigner for ending FGM Assita Kanko, who had the initiative to table the resolution, said:

 

“The European Parliament has today proved that certain issues go beyond political games. There is general consensus that we need to eliminate FGM. No less than 200 million girls and women today have to live with the often terrible consequences of their genital mutilation.

 

“Female Genital Mutilation is not only an African issue, far from it. All girls and women must have the opportunity to choose their own future.

 

“Through practical training, cooperation, information sharing, international diplomacy, and crucially through showing zero tolerance, the EU should aim to solve this issue at all levels of society.

 

“It takes a lot of courage to break a taboo. There must be zero tolerance when it comes to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. It is a crime against your body, your mind, and your physical autonomy.”

 

As a young girl, Kanko herself became a victim of genital mutilation in her country of birth, Burkina Faso. She is also calling for support for survivors of this practice.


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