Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in Sudan

Female genital mutilation “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (Female genital mutilation, Februrary) FGM leads to infertility, bleeding during, pain sexual intercourse, and sometimes causes death. I found different possible origins for Female genital mutilation but it can be date as far back as the 5th century B.C in Egypt.  Nearly 90 percent of Sudanese woman go through this procedure every year. They say encourages hygiene for Sudanese woman, men think highly of women who are circumcised, and it makes the bride price higher.  With the bride price being high it will help poor families with the additional income. Some Sudanese say it also has to do with their religion who Muslims and say the Koran says woman should be circumcised. In 2008 WHO passed a resolution to put end to FGM.UNICEF and the National Organization for Women (NOW) are trying to stop FGM. These are organizations are to make people know the consequences of FGM through support, research, and guidance.

Professor Ellen Gruenbaum did research in Sudan where FGM is way more common. Her research showed that the more western civilization got involve there was more the Sudanese resist to change. “Gruenbaum shows that the practices of female circumcision are deeply embedded in Sudanese cultural traditions – in religious, moral and aesthetic values, and in ideas about class, ethnicity and gender” (PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision, 2012). Professor Gruenbaum research shows how to take a different approach to stop FGM in Sudan.  She wants to bring to light both the reception and the confrontation to change. Gruenbaum says it happens because of social and financial changes, religion influences, and woman not being educated about FGM. “ Gruenbaum seeks to provide an insightful analysis of the process of changing this complex, highly debated practice”. (PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision, 2012)

Works Cited

PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision. (2012, September 29). Retrieved from http://www.peacewomen.org/news_article.php?id=179&type=event

Female genital mutilation. (Februrary, 2012). Retrieved from Who Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/





3 thoughts on “Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in Sudan

  1. One method anthropologist used to address this issue is through the education of FGM. When people are properly informed on the subject and know the full consequences of their actions they can proceed in a different way that could possibly lead to a compromise on both ends. I learned from a previous anthropology class, Women and Health, that one reason why it is still done aside from religious beliefs is because it makes the female genitalia look more appealing to the male. This coincides with having an increased value for a woman as a bride and bringing more wealth to the family. It was also noted that there can me female circumcision that does not lead to many of the harmful affects from what was stated in the previous post. This less invasive form of female circumcision can be introduced as a compromise where the woman can live a less painful life while still upholding religious beliefs and male views.
    Anthropology has allowed for me to understand why FGM is such a large problem and why it still exist today. We all operate based upon a series of morals and religious beliefs we hold true in our minds and to tell someone that what has been working for so long in their community is actually harmful could be difficult to do if you do not understand their culture. From lectures we learned that losing some values from our culture could be harmful to our health. For example, when Mexican immigrants live in America, the first five years their health is better than wealthy individuals. When they begin to loose their values and their culture begins to transform or weaken, their health declines. It is for this reason that telling the Sudan people to stop completely without having some solution that still encompasses the ritual of the action and providing the same benefits could be seen as preposterous.

  2. From what I have read I believe that Dr. Gruenbaum is using the experiential approach. She spent some time in Sudan and did research to find that the Sudanese people wanted to resist the western influence for change and continued to perform rituals for FGM. She draws on her own first hand experience from being there and talking to the people to make these conclusions. Dr Gruenbaum has even come up with a different approach to find a solution to FGM. She wants to educate women about FGM, and says that FGM occurs because of social and financial changes, and religious influences. Because women who get circumcised have a higher bride price, they get this done so they can help their family who is in financial trouble. From an anthropological view, this has been happening for so long that it is part of their culture, and it is very hard to just up and stop doing something that is that integrated into the community. Like when Mexicans move to America, they still have very strong ties to their culture from Mexico and have much better healthcare than many Americans. But as they live here and start to lose their cultural ties, they begin to decline and become more like every American. So we can’t just make the Sudanese people just stop FGM. Educating women is a good first step, but a solution that can reduce the health risks of it is a better solution than just making FGM illegal.

  3. This is a very interesting topic. According to the website listed at the end of the post, Gruenberg, the medical anthropologist, studies FGM through five years of fieldwork in Sudan. She also says she explores both insider and outsider perspectives on the subject. Her analysis presents FGM within its cultural context and individual experiences. Based on this website, I think that Gruenberg uses a combination of theories to study FGM. She partially uses the experiential approach, because her fieldwork uses the illness narratives and personal experiences of affected individuals. Additionally, I would also say that Gruenberg uses an ethnomedical approach. Her research tries to illustrate the explanatory model behind FGM within its cultural, and acknowledges its linkage to cultural and religious traditions.

    I think applying anthropology is the best way to understand FGM because it is so closely linked to a particular culture; as mentioned in the post, it also has strong ties to education, social status, and religion, and anthropology is best suited to take all of these factors into account. For instance, if this were to be studied from only a biomedical standpoint, I think it would be hard to understand its origins and why it continues, and also its effects on the individual. Medical anthropology is capable of taking multiple factors into account so that the problem can be best understood and best solved.

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