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Sudan outlaws female genital mutilation

 Carrying out the procedure in the country is now punishable by three years in jail (Shutterstock)

The government of Sudan has criminalized carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM). Carrying out the procedure in the country is now punishable by three years in jail.

The Sudanese government approved an amendment to its criminal legislation on April 22. The amendment states that anyone who performs the procedure, be it in a medical establishment or elsewhere, faces three years imprisonment, or a fine.

According to UNICEF, 87% of Sudanese women between ages 14 and 49 have undergone some form of FGM.  

The procedure entails partial or complete removal of the female genitalia, including the labia and the clitoris, and it is known to cause a number of health problems. It can result in infections of the urinary tract, uterus, and kidney.

FGM can also cause reproductive issues, pain during intercourse, inability to orgasm and fatal childbirth complications later.

According to a report by Reuters, women rights groups are welcoming the move by the government as they hope it can end the traditional practice.

However, they have warned that it might be difficult to change minds of communities that view the procedure as a necessity to marry their daughters.

"FGM prevalence in Sudan is one of the highest globally. It is now time to use punitive measures to ensure girls are protected from this torturous practice." Reuters quotes Faiza Mohamed, Africa regional director for Equality Now.

"Having a law against FGM acts as an important deterrent, however, Sudan may face challenges in enforcing legislation. People who still believe in the practice might not report cases or act to stop FGM when they know it is happening.

“Communities may look for ways to avoid detection, while officials who believe in it may not uphold the law,” warned Mohamed.

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