Female genital mutilation, otherwise known as FGM, occurs in about 89% of North Sudanese women. Usual mutilation is to remove all external sexual parts and surgical closure of the vagina takes place. Culturally, female genital mutilation is seen as a symbol of decency, dignity, and fertility in marriage, before marriage, and upon sexual maturation, depending on the area of the population in question. FGM can also be used, sometimes, as a mark of a young girl entering adulthood as a women (which usually is determined as before the age of 10). Because of the high incident rate, and because women in Sudan are viewed as inferior, women usually experience social pressure to undergo the FGM surgeries. Uncircumcised women are viewed as unclean and hyper-sexual because they have not undergone the painful FGM procedure. Women often undergo the FGM surgery more than once in their life to re-signify their dignity and cleanliness in their sexuality and marriage. Usually, the FGM process occurs after each episode of child birth to tighten the vagina for better martial sex for the husband.
Sudan was the 1st African country to regulate FGM with law. Currently, legislation only permits less invasive forms of the procedure, however, the full procedure is still done traditionally. Usually, the traditional procedure can still take place because only about 1% of these surgeries are done by government regulated doctors, usually the FGM procedure is done by a community midwife. Doctors can be arrested if found to be practicing FGM.
Current legislation and an anthropological idea of FGM is seen in the article “Sociocultural dynamics of Female genital Cutting, written by Ellen Guernbalm, fights to show how FGM is an example of a misunderstood cultural element to the African community. She is trying to find the connection between how communities determine what is a good ritual and what is a bad ritual to keep, and why the community chose to keep the ritual alive in the current cultural society (article can be found at: http://web.stcloudstate.edu/edscheel/FGM%20and%20Circumcision/sociocultural%20dynamics%20of%20female%20genital%20cutting.pdf)
“Female genital mutilation in Sudan and Somalia.” Landinfo 10 (2007). Accessed August 6, 2014. http://www.landinfo.no/asset/764/1/764_1.pdf.
GRUENBAUM, ELLEN. “Socio-cultural dynamics of female genital cutting: Research findings, gaps, and directions.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 7, no. 5: 429-41. Accessed August 6, 2014. http://web.stcloudstate.edu/edscheel/FGM%20and%20Circumcision/sociocultural%20dynamics%20of%20female%20genital%20cutting.pdf.