Joint Press Release Day of the African Child 2021
As child rights and child focused agencies- Save the Children International; Plan International; World Vision International; UNICEF we call for more to be done to actualize laws and policies that are meant to protect children.
Khartoum, 16 June 2021 – Thirty years after the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), Sudan stands at a critical juncture towards being able to fully respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights. Today, on June 16th, the Day of the African Child, as we celebrate recent child rights victories in Sudan, we also call for more to be done to implement these important changes.
In 2020, the Transitional Government of Sudan lifted three reservations previously placed in the Charter, concerning children’s privacy, child marriage, and pregnant girls’ continuation of education.
In addition, Article 141 was passed in the Sudanese Criminal Law by Sudan’s Transitional Government, effectively criminalizing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). This landmark decision was welcomed and celebrated across Sudan and beyond as a truly significant milestone in further promoting the rights and well-being of girls and women in Sudan. We must urgently build on this momentum to legally protect the lives of millions of girls still at risk of this violation in Sudan.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that FGM/C practice is now criminalized and penalized under the new law, it is still commonly practiced in Sudan, as witnessed by Save the Children International, UNICEF, Plan International and World Vision in communities where we work. Available data shows that 87% of Sudanese girls and/or women aged between 14 and 49 have already undergone some form of FGM/C, and 32% of girls under the age of 14 are affected, and girls under 10 at risk.
As child rights and child focused organizations, we remain unrelenting in our commitment to supporting and advocating for efforts that support the rights and well-being of children and continue to encourage and work with all duty bearers – at national and grassroot-level to ensure positive engagement and protection of children.
We acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing promising steps being taken towards the elimination of FGM/C in Sudan in addition to its criminalization. This year for example, the Sudanese Council of Ministers approved the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which states under Article 5 the elimination of all harmful practices, covering essential areas such as public awareness, legal action, support to victims and protection of women at risk.
All these are steps in a positive direction that can and should result in a better and healthier future for children in Sudan. They should and encourage the development of better policies and strategies and ensure that more action is taken to stop the practice of FGM/C which is a grave violation, that has severe physical, psychological, sexual and reproductive health effects on girls and women at different stages of their lives.
With this in mind, we urgently call upon government actors, donors, civil society and the international community to do more towards ending FGM/C and all other violations against children by prioritising the following:
- Strengthen activation and enforcement of the new criminal law regarding FGM/C, including scaling up advocacy and awareness on enforcement of the law.
- Step up nationwide awareness campaigns to ensure demand and acceptance of the law, educational and cultural reforms should be promoted and supported, empowering children by equipping them with knowledge of harmful traditional practices and equipping them to engage in discussions and develop peer-to-peer awareness techniques in both schools and community level.
- Appropriately allocate resources towards the implementation of the law, including training law enforcement officials and strengthening of judiciary institutions to manage and handle reported cases, strengthen accountability, tracking mechanisms, investigations and prosecution of violations, with a gender-and-child-sensitive approach.
- Encourage a multi-sectoral approach to the implementation of the law that incorporates the roles of ministries of health, social development and education in mainstreaming relevant thematic FGM/C programmes, including comprehensive sexual health education, that equip and empower girls to make informed decisions about their sexual health and well-being.
- Invest in quality education for girls. Going to school gives girls choices and opportunities in life, allowing them to realize their dreams, play an active and positive role in their communities, and break the cycle of poverty.
- Encourage the roles of ministries of health, social development and education in committing to the operationalization of the FGM/C National Plan (2021-2031).
Save the Children International, Plan International, World Vision International and UNICEF stand ready to support the government and all partners in these critical endeavors to fulfil the rights of all children in Sudan, especially girls, to secure a healthy prosperous future for the country
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child and is committed to the children of Sudan. We never give up on finding solutions that provide immediate help to save the lives of children or provide durable support so that those children grow up with dignity, health and an education.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.