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Sudan needs more reforms to address discriminations against women: SIHA

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Sudanese women demonstrate against the former regime in Khartoum in December 2018 ( EPA photo)May 4, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The ban of female genital mutilation (FGM) by the transitional government in Sudan should not draw attention away from the needed reforms to address many laws that remain strongly prejudiced against women in the East African country, said a regional women group.

Four days ago, the Sudanese government said it has endorsed a law criminalising female genital mutilation making it punishable by three years in jail.

The move was welcomed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the European Union and many international women rights groups.

However, on Monday, the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) said this new development should not blind people from several laws that rights of women and girls in the country.

In a statement on issued on the FGM ban, SIHA referred to several laws in force enacted by the ousted regime such as the Personal Status Law which recognizes women forced marriage from the age of 10 years and restricts women’s ability to make decisions. Besides the Sudan Criminal Act which allows to accuse of adultery survivors of sexual violence or to charge women of “Gross indecency” to control women’s dress code and behaviour.

"Whereas the criminalization of FGM in Sudan might seem well-intended, it actually does not address the root causes of women’s subordination in Sudan which are deeply ingrained in misogynistic attitudes," stressed the statement.

Furthermore, SIHA’s Regional Director Hala Alkarib stressed that criminalizing FGM may appear as an "incredible victory" for women in Sudan but in fact, it does not repair the discriminations against women established during 30 years by the ousted Islamist regime.

“One has to wonder whether the piece-meal reform of the legal framework in Sudan is going to bring about the transformative change needed to bring a halt to the practice," said Alkarib.

"Sudan’s legal framework is notoriously patriarchal and discriminatory against women. Without addressing the framework as a whole as well as the misogynistic beliefs and practices that maintain and reproduce it, it is unlikely that criminalisation of FGM alone will resolve the issues,” she emphasized.

The practise of female genital mutilation is still widespread in Sudan, according to the findings of a UNICEF report on FGM in 2013, Sudan has a prevalence of 90%.

Sudan signed the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women in Africa in June 2008 but no ratification has yet been deposited with the African Union.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 5 May 13:50, by Kwacha Okonyomoi

    Female Genital Mutilation was discouraged during the reign of Jaafar Mohammed Nimeiry but was not put into law. Unfortunately the Ingaz regime under Bashir strengthened it although many human rights activists opposed it. Bravo to the new leadership for abolishing the FGM. One wonders if all the beautiful ladies demonstrating right now are circumcised.

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