Female genital mutilation and reproductive health in Africa
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or the more value neutral term, Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is widely practised in northern Sudan, where around 90% of women undergo the most extensive form of FGC, infibulation. One new approach to combating FGC in Sudan is to acknowledge the previously hidden form of FGC, reinfibulation (RI) after delivery, when the woman is sewn back so much as to mimic virginity. Based on a qualitative study in Khartoum State, this article explores Sudanese women\'s and men\'s perceptions and experiences of FGC with emphasis on RI after delivery. The results showed that both genders blame each other for the continuation of the practices, and the comprehensive understanding of the perceptions and experiences was that both the women and the men in this study were victims of the consequences of FGC and RI. The female narratives could be understood in the three categories: viewing oneself as being “normal” in having undergone FGC and RI; being caught between different perspectives; and having limited influence on the practices of FGC and RI. The male narratives could be understood in the three categories: suffering from the consequences of FGC and RI, trying to counterbalance the negative sexual effects of FGC and striving in vain to change female traditions. The results indicate that the complexity of the persistence of FGC and RI goes far beyond being explained by subconscious patriarchal and maternalistic actions, related to socially constructed concepts of normality, female identity, tradition and religion in a “silent” culture between men and women.
African Journal of Reproductive Health Vol. 10 (2) 2006: pp. 10-12
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