FGM in the Sudan

As I was doing research on what FGM was, I found some stories of girls that have gone through this “procedure.” It was not by personal choice in their cases. Female Genital Mutilation or FGM is “the partial or total removal of the female genitalia,” as described by path.org. It is also known as female circumcision. Despite being condemned by the United Nations, health professional, and human rights organizations, FGM is practiced all over the world especially in Africa, more specifically the Sudan. It was actually declared illegal in the Sudan in 1941, but has since been legalized.  An article in the Sudanese Tribune claims, almost 90 percent of northern Sudanese women have suffered through this. According to another source, that is about 14 million women and girls. Usually this ordeal is done to girls from age’s six to ten but it has been done to girls younger than that. One of the girls from the story who was forced to undergo this procedure was asked who made her get it done, her answer was her grandmother; “She said that this is something belonging to the traditions and customs and we can’t get away from it. And at that time everyone in the Sudanese society used to have this circumcision,” Aside from just the traditions of the culture, FGM also occurs in the Sudan because some believe it promotes hygiene and Sudanese men prefer women who have been circumcised. Not only does Female Genital Mutilation cause girls excruciating pain but there are also serious side effects that could occur. According to path.org, “The highest maternal infant mortality rates are in FGM- practicing regions.” Though the numbers are not exact, they believe about a third of girls who have been circumcised die due to treatment unavailability. One Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that has had a big effect on stopping FGM from happening is the Babikar Scientific Studies Association on Women Studies. They were the first NGO to try to help the fight against FGM in Sudan. While there are many who think this practice should be stopped, one Sierra Leonean anthropologist named Fuambi Ahmadu thinks that is not right. Ahmadu does not see circumcision as a barbaric act or a mutilation nor does she believe that it affects a woman’s health. He is working to try and spread his opinion and educate people on what he believes to be true about Female Genital Mutilation.






1 thought on “FGM in the Sudan

  1. Looking at the information, it seems to me like Fuambi Ahmadu used both an experiential approach and a critical approach. As someone who underwent the procedure, she knows what it is like, so she is not making judgments about something she knows nothing about as it seems other people are doing. She is critical, not of the practice itself, but of those who look down on the practice because they do not understand it.
    Using anthropology could help people understand this practice better by allowing them to understand the cultural significance of the practice. In many of the cultures in which this practice exists, it is not seen as mutilation but as a rite of passage. I had an African Art History course, and we learned about how a lot of cultural groups had initiations into societies that involved very complex rituals. In many of these rituals, the males were circumcised when initiated because it was seen as getting rid of the female part of them so that they could become men, and in the women’s groups the girls were excised to get rid of the male part of them so they could become women. In this context, excision can be seen from the cultural point of view, not as something that is harmful and mutilating, but as something that creates solidarity between the women of an organization and the change of a girl into a woman.

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