Sudanese brides-to-be are opting for genital mutilation. Here’s why

Theodora Aidoo Jan 7, 2020 at 01:00pm

January 07, 2020 at 01:00 pm | Opinions & Features, Women

Theodora Aidoo

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

January 07, 2020 at 01:00 pm | Opinions & Features, Women

Pic Credit: UNICEF

In a bid to pretend to be virgins some women in Sudan have chosen to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a month or two before their wedding.

FGM has been a traditional practice in Africa for ages.

It is a practice in which the external female genitalia are slit for reasons such as religious or cultural rites. It is usually performed by a non-medical practitioner and done without the consent of the individual.

However, in Sudan women are voluntarily opting for the session under the guise of virginity even though it comes with long term physical and psychosocial consequences.

When a bride-to-be opts for FGM, the process is usually carried out by midwives and it involves cutting away more of the labia and re-stitching the vagina.

Recounting her ordeal two months before her marriage, a bride-to-be told the BBC: “It was so painful and I had to go and stay with a friend of mine for days until I recovered because I didn’t want my mother to know.”

“Urinating was an issue and I couldn’t walk properly in the first few days. The reason goes beyond the pretense, it also has much to do with trust. He will never have to trust me if he discovers that I have had sex before our marriage,” the university graduate said.

She added: “He would ban me from going out or even using the phone.”

According to the UN, about 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 have undergone some form of FGM.

To date, many regions in Sudan including its capital, Khartoum have not outlawed circumcision yet women choose to undergo the cruel operation secretly probably because the midwives charge a little less than the 5,000 Sudanese pound fee (about $110) that is usually charged.

This practice by the Sudanese women can be attributed to the many cultures where so much importance is attached to a woman’s virginity.

As a result, women opt to have surgery to reconstruct their hymen just to hide any sign of past sexual activity. The operation called “hymenoplasty” needs to be performed by a surgeon which is not widely available in Sudan.

Reportedly, in Sudan, only one clinic offers hymenoplasty strictly for married women while midwives are willing to offer the various procedures since none of the procedures can be carried out in hospitals, not even in Khartoum, as the Sudanese Medical Council does not allow them.

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