South Kordofan Legislative Council proposes to ban Female Genital Mutilation

By Nanne op 't Ende

Oct 26, 2008

The South Kordofan Legislative Council seems in full swing, with SPLM presenting two bills on October 23 October - a State Judiciary and a State Police Act - and three more bills being presented past week: the State Child Act, a bill on the State Child Welfare Council, and finally one on FGM.  

The 2005 powersharing deal between NCP and SPLM in 2005, included an Interim National Constitution. Since it came into effect on December 7, 2005, national legislation is under review to allign it with the new constitution.

A similar process is taking place in each of Sudan's 25 states. The States Legislative Councils have drawn up their constitutions and are reviewing legislation. This proces was seriously delayed in South Kordofan, where NCP and SPLM could not agree on details of the powersharing arrangement for over a year.

New SPLM members of the Legislature in South Kordofan participated in a workshop on parliamentary procedures in Uganda, and are now better prepared for their tasks.

The State Judiciary and State Police Act were the first bills presented to the South Kordofan Legislative that had been drafted by the SPLM. After brief discussion, the bills were transferred to the Human Rights and Legal Affairs Committee for dissemination and discussion.  

On 25 October, the Women, Children and Social Affairs Committee held hearings on the State Child Act; the bill on the State Child Welfare Council, and a bill on FGM. The Child Act is based on the new national laws and South Kordofan is late in passing its own version. But the bill on Female Genital Mutilation, if approved, will be the first in Sudan.

FGM was common practice among the Arabic tribes in SOuth Kordofan and had spread to many of the Nuba tribes too. When the SPLM set up an administration in the areas ounder its control in the Nuba Mountains, it banned FGM. The practice has proven hard to eradicate, but more and more people recognise its harmful effects on women's health and psychology.

Of all the SPLM and NCP members who spoke on the FGM bill, only one opposed it; most speakers called for strengthening its measure to prevent the practice and punish midwives, parents and anyone else responsible for circumcision of girls. Several participants stood up and spoke proudly about their own daughters who had not been circumcised.

A revised version of all three bills is expected to be presented for a vote this week.  


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