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Giving Compass' Take:
• Sudan has recently criminalized female genital mutilation (FGM), ushering in a new era of women's rights for the country.
• Anti-FGM campaigners believe that this is a step forward for the government toward democracy and equality. How can international donors help encourage these practices?
• Here are five activists leading the fight against female genital mutilation in Africa.
Sudan has criminalised female genital mutilation (FGM), making it punishable by three years in jail, a move campaigners said ushered in a "new era" for women's rights in the African nation.
Almost nine out of 10 women and girls in predominately Muslim Sudan have undergone FGM, United Nations data show. The procedure usually involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and can cause a host of health problems.
The Sudanese government approved an amendment to its criminal legislation on April 22, stating that anyone who performs FGM either inside a medical establishment or elsewhere faces three years' imprisonment and a fine.
Women's rights groups said the punishment would help to end FGM, but warned it would be difficult to change minds in communities that view the traditional practice as necessary 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," said 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," Mohamed continued. "People who still believe in the practice might not report cases or act to stop FGM when they know it is happening."
An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which is practised in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East. Girls can bleed to death or die from infections, while FGM can also cause fatal childbirth complications later, say health experts.
Sudanese women face a barrage of threats, from child marriage to domestic violence and rape. Yet there are few policies in place to protect women and girls. Marital rape and child marriage, for example, are not considered crimes.
Women's issues have however gained greater attention in the last year, following the prominent role women and girls played in 9-month-long street protests which ousted veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April last year.
Read the full article about Sudan criminalizes FGM by Nita Bhalla at Global Citizen.