SUDAN: It Takes More Than a Law to Stop the Cut
Photo: Ben Parker/UNICEF
|Attitudes and misinformation will have to be overcome for a law passed in November 2008, prohibiting FGM in Southern Kordofan, to translate into genuine abolition|
Photo: Ann Weru/IRIN
|Women dance at Karkaraya Kayen village, on the outskirts of the main town of Kadugli, in Southern Kordofan: More than two-thirds of women in the state have undergone FGM/C, according to a 2006 household survey conducted by the Ministry of Health|
Although she knew FGM/C was now banned, Jibril said she believed some form was still necessary. "The Pharaonic one was bad but the Sunna type is better," she said. "It should continue."
"It is mainly the 'grandmothers' who still want FGM," said Wahid Eldeen Abed Elrahim, director of the National Council for Child Welfare, an NGO working to monitor and encourage implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
More educated men are being convinced that they should protect their children, Elrahim said, adding that it had taken 18 months of advocacy and awareness-creation before the mainly male-dominated legislative council in the state passed the FGM/C Law.
Under the new legislation, the penalty for an FGM/C offence will be 10 years’ imprisonment and compensation to the family if it caused the death of the victim. The attempt, assisting in the procedure and abetment will be penalised with two-year jail terms. Those propagating FGM/C and operating places where it is committed will also be punished and repeat offenders imprisoned for life.
In addition, information about protection against FGM/C will be issued at the birth of every girl and incorporated into school curricula.
A national strategy was launched in Sudan in 2008, with the aim of total abolition and zero tolerance within 10 years.
Elrahim said there was a long way to go. "Families are worried that their girls will not get married if they are not circumcised," he said.
"I think it is time for the children to be allowed to decide whether or not to undergo FGM/C. But even then most will still opt for FGM/C just before marriage," said Zainab Kordofor, a Kadugli resident.
The focus now is on creating awareness, especially among influential communities such as those in Al Fula, in the west, where the practice is particularly prevalent, to mobilise support for the collective abandonment of FGM/C.
"We are focusing on ensuring that the high-profile areas are aware of the FGM act and of the punishment for engaging in the practice," said Huda Gamar Hussien, a social worker.
"The passing of the law will, however, not change behaviour overnight," said Hussien. "Right now we are seeing movement from the Pharaonic type to Sunna, then maybe later to no FGM at all."
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