Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan A widespread practice even after marriage

09:21 A

Wednesday 20 October 2021

By - Defaf Mahmoud

A husband tears up his wife's genitals with a sharp tool when she refused to circumcise herself.

From the courts, a wife files a divorce suit for damages over her husband's demands for circumcision.

A Sudanese woman filed a lawsuit against her husband, demanding divorce after he torn her female organ apart with a sharp tool when she refused to be subjected to FGM. She accused him of inflicting damage to her organ, led to depriving her from motherhood.

A girl said she won’t get married to avoid FGM after marriage.

Shocking statistics on FGM in two states showed that more than 83 percent of woman have their gentiles mutilated.

One day while I was reviewing one of women groups on Facebook, I was shocked when I found ads for a woman, claiming that she is a legal midwife. She was named Batoul. I didn’t care about whether that was her real name. That ads made me angry, especially its wording which was very humiliating for woman and rude.

The ads targeted women seeking circumcision or hymenoplasty surgery. I tried to call the phone number on the ads, but unfortunately, the number was switched off. I was very curious to know whether she was aware that the wording in the ads very rude and humiliating for women, or that she switched off her phone after receiving harsh criticism from the group’s followers.

Or what has really happened?!

I believe that social media platforms have not become a blessed tool anymore. The platforms have turned into an indignation, as users focus, in a bad way, on disadvantages of Sudanese society and on its anomalous cases as if it is a phenomenon.


Statistics show that the FGM practice is still widespread despite huge awareness campaigns by civil society organizations and the Health Ministry, and legal penalties to end such brutal practice. FGM is seen by many families as a way to protect girls, and that girls should have their gentiles mutilated to be able to get married. Even married women have been returned to their families to get mutilated.

I visited courts, midwives specialize in all kinds of FGM, including the Sunni, Pharaonic one. I met with many victims of such practice. Women who are not mutilated face verbal abuses.

I went with a colleague to a midwife place. There, we met with a girl in her 20s. She was accompanied by her mother and sister. She was to undergo FGM. Her mother told us that she is a well-educated woman that refused to subject her daughters to the practice. However, the husband of her daughter, who is a high-ranking officer, started to mistreat and beat his wife, demanding her to have her gentiles mutilated. He knew that she was not mutilated before their marriage, but he claimed that he can’t enjoy his wife while having sex.

She refused and tried to convince him about the health problems caused by FGM, and that being not mutilated doesn’t affect their sex life. But he was not convinced. He travelled for a couple of days in a work trip, when he returned, he found that his wife did not undergo the FGM. He brought a razor and tried to mutilate her, causing her to bleed. He called her mother asking her to come and see what happened to her daughter. He blamed her for what happened.

When my colleague asked the mother to take a legal action against her daughter’s husband, she refused. She said they just want to get her daughter divorced, before screaming and accused us of being activist who know nothing. Then we were thrown out of the place.

In the outskirts of Khartoum, a four-year-old child suffered from painful bleeding after her grandmother insisted that she should undergo the FGM. Her misery started when the grandmother came to visit them and found that her grandchild did not undergo FGM. She insisted that the child should be circumcised despite the child’s mother refusal.

The child bled severely after a midwife cut her gentiles and was taken to hospital where she underwent another surgery to treat what the midwife has done.


For two weeks, I visited courtrooms to be more familiar with what is going on. I was trying to understand the main reasons behind such divorce cases. I found that FGM is a major factor. I have met with a lawyer there, who told me that many women still suffer from such practice even after they got married. Husbands often force their wives whether to have their gentiles mutilated or get divorced. Many choose not to continue their marriage for safety reasons, other undergo FGM. The lawyer said she succeeded in defending her client’s right of being divorced after her husband threatened to mutilate her gentiles.

I joined a Facebook women group and raised the FGM issue in an attempt to collect feedback. A woman, 40, was the first to engage with me. She spoke about her experiences with FGM practice when she was seven years old. She explained how this practice has physical and psychological consequences on women. She said that she has become sterile because this brutal operation caused a major damage in her ovary. As she underwent the pharaonic style of FGM, which is described as the most server and dangerous category of FGM. She said that she started to be speak out against such bad habit in other women groups on social media. She warned women about having the same destiny of her and became deprived from motherhood.

She called for the government to adopt strict laws to punish anybody, who would do such a practice against his wife, sister, or daughters.

Another girl said she got engaged three times and broke up when her fiancé asked her to get her gentiles mutilates. She added if this the only way to get married, so I don’t want to.

“All my friends who underwent FGM are suffering severe pain in their period’s time, or when they are giving birth,” she said.

We found horrifying details about FGM in Sudan, amid efforts to fight the practice. The Sudanese government has adopted an amendment to criminal code, making FGM a crime publishable by up to three years in prison despite efforts by NGOs and other organizations to adopt harsh penalties against those carrying such practice.

Official statistics in 2016 showed that 31,5 percent of children under four years were undergone FGM. The practice is called in Sudan a purity operation, especially the pharaonic style which is still spread especially in rural areas. Old women in rural areas are still insisting on conducting such style to their daughters and grandchildren to protect them from being described as whores.

Worth to say, that the statistics indicate the highest rate of this brutal action is in Nile state with 83.3%, and in the Northern state with 83.4%. The percentage declines gradually in other states.

There are also prevailing beliefs in the society that this practice prevent infidelity and increase men pleasure while having sex with their wives.

We found that many woman and children lose their lives in the countryside because of such practice. We are going to demonstrate all legal, activists, doctors, and all whom may concern opinions about this issue, in our next series of investigations.