Khartoum, May 3 (efe-epa).- The Sudanese government is to approve a law to criminalize the female genital mutilation, a common practice in the African country.
The legislation will be passed “at the end of the week or at the beginning of the next” during a meeting between the cabinet and Sovereignty Council, Al-Barag al-Nazir, spokesperson for the Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok told Efe.
Both entities run the country, which has no parliament, in a transition period after the ousting of former leader Omar al-Bashir over a year ago.
The bill, endorsed by the government on 22 April, punishes this practice with a three-year prison sentence and the shutdown of the health centre where it was performed, al-Nazir added.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the “historic step” and said it will allow the country to enter a “new era” for women’s rights.
Sudan is one of the top countries where female genital mutilation is performed, affecting 86.6 percent of the women between 15 and 49 years old, according to the UN.
The practice had not been criminalized in Sudan despite a proposal presented by its National Council for Children in 2017 under al-Bashir.
Sudan’s parliament “postponed the approval (of the law) due to the influence of radical (MP) and other groups that defend this practice considering it a social inheritance,” Amira Musa, head of the government body told Efe.
Sudan’s NGO showed support for the bill, although with discrepancies.
Head of the Center for the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children NGO Nahed Gabralah deemed the move as “a victory for the Sudanese woman” and an important step “to put an end to FGM”.
Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Silmyia NGO Siham Omar said the law is “insufficient” because the parents involved in such practices should also be punished.