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Sudan will Allows Non- Muslims to Consume Alcohol and Bans Female Genital Mutilation

Sudan will Allows Non- Muslims to Consume Alcohol and Bans Female Genital Mutilation

Sudan has passed laws banning female genital mutilation and allowing non-Muslims to consume alcohol, the justice minister said late Saturday. 

Along with banning female genital mutilation, Sudan’s Sovereign Council last week reversed a law which formerly required women to have a permit from a male family member to travel with their children. 

Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdock hailed the changes as “an important step in reforming the justice system.” 

Roughly 3% of Sudan’s population is non-Muslim, according to United Nations estimates. 

Alcoholic drinks have been banned since former President Jaafar Nimeiri introduced Islamic law in 1983, throwing bottles of whisky into the Nile in the capital Khartoum.

The transition government which took over after autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled last year has vowed to lead Sudan to democracy, end discrimination and make peace with rebels.

Non-Muslims will no longer be criminalized for drinking alcohol in private, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari told state television. For Muslims, the ban will remain. Offenders are typically flogged under Islamic law.

While women’s rights advocates celebrated the long awaited decision, they warned that the practice of FGM remains culturally entrenched in Sudan. A 2014 survey backed by the United Nations found that 87% of Sudanese women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 had been subjected to the procedure. 

Some critics, including women’s rights advocates, noted the timing of the decision, stating that as the country battles the novel coronavirus pandemic and continued fuel shortages, they will have few resources to spread awareness of the new laws. 

Anyone found guilty of performing the procedure will be subject to three years in prison, the Associated Press reported. 

The transitional government, established last August following the ouster of Bashir after months of protests, approved the new measures last week. 

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