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Female Circumscision : The Rite of Passage....

The drums rolled as the young dancers jumped up and down twisting their young bodies. The birds joined in the chorus as if aware of what was going to take place in the next few minutes. It was a wet and cool morning as it had rained heavily the previous night and the sun was taking its time in awaking. Mothers both young and old had wrapped themselves in brightly colored wrappers with their young ones tightly strapped to their backs as they danced separately from the young girls in circles.

Amidst the cold, I sat sweating, in the large airy hut with twenty other girls of about my age
Beautifully adorned. Today was a joyous day for our mothers and village, as it was the day we would become women, the day we would be initiated into the sacred institution of womanhood, which marked the beginning of the lessons in the art of pleasing our future husbands and finally , the day we would be circumcised. According to the older women, on this day, the rose that stoked the embers of promiscuity and indecent desires would be taken out and we would become modest women.

I still remember vividly that my sister was circumcised the year before, like it was yesterday.
We the younger girls had danced and cheered as old “Iya” with her shaky hands and unsterilized razor blade had walked towards the hut, where the girls sat waiting. We were not supposed to see but I had peeped and not missed the sight of my sister being held down firmly by two older women and her legs spread. Old Iya had busied herself between her legs. I would never forget the scream from my sisters young lungs as the old woman had lifted her bloody hands and dipping them into the bowl beside her, rubbed the dark contents of the bowl on the wound she had created. After which she tied my sisters legs tightly together with a strong twine, before placing her on a raffia mat and left to bleed and then heal. As mothers amidst the screams of their daughters let out cries of joy and we novices danced to the success of the rite of passage.

The smell of stale blood still lingers in my nostrils as I helped my mother nurse my sister back to health. The bleeding of most of the girls had stopped after a few days except one. Perhaps old Iya had made a mistake and cut her too deep, but the women had said she was a weakling and that she would never please any husband. She had died because she had never stopped bleeding. Only the “strong” ones had healed and danced. My sister had survived but she had never fully recovered. After her first baby , she could not control her urine any more .Her husband had sent her away because he said she stank.

Today I sit trembling with other girls my age, wondering what my fate would be for I know no better. I want to be a woman too but do I have to endure such pain before I become one? I can not say or tell as I look around the hut. I can see silent questions in their eyes and the expressions on their faces as we wait. Who are we to question the tradition of our forefathers?

The thatched door opens as the women step in letting the sun in as Old Iya finally steps in with her hands shaking as she lifts her unsterilized blade. They have come for us……

Comments

Female's Genital Mutilation legalization in Sudan...
A giant leap into the Darkness...
Many of you may have heard about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Some may have even undergone the painful experience. If so, me too, I am one of the victims. Mme OOLUSS wrote on "The Voices of our Future Applicants" of the pulse wire bulletin", a sounding story on "Female Circumcision. The story she recalled motivated me in a way that I open this issue for discussion on (http://www.sudaneseonline.com/cgi-bin/sdb/2bb.cgi?seq=board&board=190) a very famous Sudanese website published in both Arabic and English languages.. Please visit the following link :http://www.sudaneseonline.com/cgi-bin/sdb/2bb.cgi?seq=msg&board=200&msg=1238555182&func=flatview
In this article I am going to highlight readers about this crime committed against women and how it cast its shadow on their future.
In Sudan, practice of (FGM) is divided into three types: Sunna, Medium and Pharaonic.
The first one is associated with Koran, and it is the lightest one. The second is rare and done in some urban areas. It indicates the partial removal of clitoris and parts of the labia minora. The last one includes Removal of part of or al of the labia minora, with labia majora sewn together, covering the urethra and vagina and leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual fluid. This is the prevalent one in both urban and rural areas. Moreover, it is practiced under the umbrella of type one or Sunna, which is claimed to have religious background and support..

However this practice is undertaken mainly for religious beliefs, cultural or other non-medical reasons.
Voluntarily fighting against female cutting dates back to the 1940s, some educated, intellectual and religious group of women and men condemned started fighting against it, relying on their meager incomes.
Through, FGM is condemned by the United Nations, human rights organizations and health professionals; it is still wide spread in Sudan, especially among lower classes. What is painful, this custom is done on small children, when they are almost 7 – year- old, done by health practitioners with no medical back ground about the dangers and complications of this type of cutting. Women bear the scars of these wounds physically and morally.

Four years ago, While the world celebrates the struggle against violence against women:
"Al Watan" local newspaper, published a story of a child 4- year- old , who lost her life because of pharaonic circumcision. According to the newspaper, Inaam, died at Khartoum North hospital as a result of severe bleeding resulting from Pharaonic circumcision. Doctors did their best to save the child who has been brought from the outskirt of Khartoum (aboudleig), the bleeding continued despite all efforts to stop it.
Medical report attached with the body stated that the child "has been exposed to genital mutilation a criminal act that ended her life in a morgue of a hospital. Two years later, another one followed.

Indeed it is regrettable that the practice of female genital mutilation in Sudan is in most cases, a kind of self-judgment, where the curriculum of medical students and nursing schools is free of such practice. No body teaches them how to exercise or perform it... Out of greedy this practice is followed and encouraged. Health practitioners, turning a blind eye to the consequences, as they do not place the victim's medical bills prior to this process...
Having read the story of the late inaam, a friend of mine recalled her experience to me. I was almost seven –year - old I have undergone the same experience. Was done to me by midwife who has totally removed labia majora/minora, clitoris and sewed vaginal opening leaving a very small hole for urine and menstrual fluid. Nine.. Was the number of the stitches she made? I counted them, when they were removed by my mother and one of her female relatives. Mine was called pharonic type. It is the most severe one. Nothing was left except the small hole. Every part of body was aching. Terrified to pass urine through the fresh wound, I couldn't eat or drink water two days... Terribly sick, I was lying in bed for seven or nine days. On the seven days one of my relatives judged that stitches had to be removed and I had to gradually rejoin my play mates. Again she and my mother approached me. In their bare hands there was a razor a needle. I don't know how they freed me. I don't even care. I felt some pain, cried again, and at last, I was free to play.

The society has its own interpretation for this custom. What is astonishing, grand mothers and Mothers who have experienced such sufferings, don't hesitate to have it repeated on their young daughters. Various factors keep it prosperous; the main reason for the continuation and predominant of the practice in almost all regions of Sudan, its association with Koran. Muslims in all sects in my country believe that it is and essential part to be a pious Muslim. They believe that the Koran calls for women to be circumcised. Some rural people insist to have it done to their daughters out of mere imitation of the urban regions. Although, the rate is far lower than in the Muslim north, it is sad that some southern Sudanese Christians also practice female genital mutilation. Moreover, ones associate it with promoting hygiene; Sudanese society still places a low value on a woman uncircumcised woman. Researches revealed an attitude of women who spared FGM, who prefer to have their daughters undergone this practice.
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However, it is believed that, although FGM is in decline in many parts of the world, it is still prevalent in Sudan, which is, according to the UNICEF report (The State of World's Children, Maternal and New born Health, 2009); ranks number seven in African continent (89%) .

Though there is no valid reason for it to continue, the Sudanese government is on the process to legalize it. Last February when the world was celebrating International Day against Female Genital Mutilation, and called for intensifying efforts in order to eliminate it completely, the Sudanese woman was surprised by the abolishment of article 13 of the Child Rights, that prevents this crime. However the government acted without taking into account that, this contradicted to numerous conventions to which it is one of the signatories. Example the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Declaration of human rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child...etc,

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