Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Sudanese religious scholars, senior journalists and doctors held a special event here on Tuesday in a show of solidarity with the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), observed globally on 6 February.
Inaugurated by Mr. Ibrahim Adam Ibrahim. Sudan’s Minister of State for Welfare and Social Security, the event which was organised jointly by the National Council for Child Welfare, the Sudanese Journalists Union and UNICEF underlined government’s commitment to end FGM/C in Sudan by 2018.
“The well-being, health and even lives of too many girls in Sudan is at risk”, Mr. Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Sudan Country Representative, said in a statement. “We must unite now to end the harmful practice of female genital mutilation within this generation.”
Welcoming the move, Mr. de Rooy added: “Whether it is a human rights-based argument or a medical justification, FGM/C has negative impact on women and children. I am happy that Sudan has endorsed a national strategy to end this harmful practice by 2018.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 140 million girls and women have undergone FGM/C worldwide and three million girls are at risk of being subjected to genital mutilation or cutting every year.
Sudan is one of 28 countries where FGM/C is practised.
According to a Sudan Household Survey (SHHS) carried out in 2006, every ninth woman out of 10 between the ages of 15 and 49 years was mutilated/cut. This figure changed to 86 per cent in 2010.
But concerted efforts by the government, non-government organizations and civil society are paying off. There is evidence that the prevalence rate among younger age groups is coming down faster.
In 2006, the SHHS said the prevalence rate was 69.4 per cent for 0 to 50-year-old women and this went down to 65.5 per cent in 2010. In other words, one-third of all women in the country are still at risk, UNICEF argued in a press statement.
FMG/C is the partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs, undertaken for cultural or other non-medical reasons.
Mutilated/cut infants, girls and women face irreversible life-long health risks, among other consequences. Although this practice is declining, it remains prevalent in many countries -- particularly in Africa and some parts of the Middle East.
A key multi-partner initiative in Sudan is the ‘Saleema’ social transformation campaign that celebrates girls who are not cut.
Saleema which in Arabic means complete/healthy encourages Sudanese families to discuss taboo subjects and to consider whether cutting is compatible with human rights. It encourages community decision-making and public declarations of abandonment as it is impossible for an individual to defy a social belief.
“Today’s coming together of religious scholars, senior journalists, medical practitioners and various government officials was a step in the direction of achieving the goal of abandonment of FMG/C in Sudan.” UNICEF stressed.
-0- PANA MO/VAO 7Feb2012