The Portuguese Parliament has voted to render female genital mutilation an autonomous crime following cross-party support for the move.

The legislative project was submitted by the ruling coalition Social Democrat and Popular parties in conjunction with the fringe Left Block with only twelve abstentions among Socialist Party MPs.

Hitherto, the legal framework for the practice of FGM fell under article 144 of the Penal Code and related to crimes involving a serious offence to physical integrity, punishable with a prison sentence of between two and ten years.

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