Combating Female Genital Mutation In Sudan

Combating Genital Mutilation in Sudan In the country of Sudan, in Northern Africa, there is a procedure that is tradition and is performed on most women called female genital mutilation, or FGM, which used to be known as female circumcision. It has been a normal practice for generations, but is now the subject for international controversy on the morality and safety of this procedure. It is now known that 82 percent of Sudanese woman have an extreme form of genital mutilation done on them, normally at a young age. This form of mutilation is called the Pharaonic form and includes the total removal of the clitoris and labia, and stitching together of the vulva, leaving only a small hole for urination and menstrual cycle. This is normally done without any type of anaesthetic or professional medical care. There is also a more moderate form of mutilation, called Sunni, where only the covering of the clitoris is removed. This practice started and became tradition in foreign countries in order to ensure that women practice chaste behavior, and to suppress female sexuality. It has also been attributed to religious beliefs of monogamy although most religions do not support this type of practice. In today\'s society it has become more of a traditional and social norm, and has less to do with religious beliefs. This problem is not only in Sudan; it is practiced in the majority of the continent of Africa as well as other countries. In other cultures, such as Australian aborigines, genital mutilation is a part of the rite of passage into maturation, and is done on both men and women (Bodley, p. 58). FGM has often been referred to as female circumcision and compared to male circumcision. However, such comparison is often misleading. Both practices include the removal of well- functioning parts of the genitalia and are quite unnecessary. However, FGM is far more drastic and damaging than male circumcision because it is extremely dangerous and painful. It is believed that two thirds of these procedures are done by untrained birth attendants, who have little knowledge of health. They are often unconcerned with hygiene, and many use instruments that are not cleaned or disinfected properly. Instruments such as razor blades, scissors, kitchen knives, and pieces of glass are commonly used. These instruments are frequently used on several girls in succession and are rarely cleaned, causing the transmission of a variety of viruses such as the HIV virus, and other infections. There are many side effects of this procedure including trauma, stress or shock from the extreme pain; and bleeding, hemorrhaging and infections that can be fatal from improperly cleaned instruments. There can also be painful and difficult sexual relations and obstructed childbirth. The effects of this one procedure can last a lifetime, both physically and pyschologically. Today, 85 to 114 million girls and women in more than 30 countries have been subjected to some form of genital mutilation. It was declared illegal in Sudan in 1941, although that did little to stop this age-old tradition. To this day, about 90% of women are still being subjected to the mutilation, especially if it is a family tradition. In various cultures there are many justifications for these practices. Many older women feel that if they have an uncircumcised daughter, she will not be able to find a husband and will become a social outcast. Family honor, cleanliness, protection against spells, insurance of virginity and faithfulness to the husband, or simply terrorizing women out of sex are sometimes used as excuses for the practice of FGM. Examples similar to this are found in other cultures, such as the Maasai, an African cattle peoples tribe. A clitoridectomy is performed on adolescent girls in this tribe as part of their rite of passage, and signifies that they are ready for marriage. This practice is openly accepted by these women as another ritual and a normal precondition of marriage (Bodley, p. 121). The efforts to stop procedures of this kind are mounting though, especially with the help of women ages 16 to 30 who realize the dangers of this practice. These women can help to save their daughters and many other women from this if they are educated of the dangers. It ends