Afr Popul Newsl. 1995 Jan-Jun;(67):6-7.
Female genital mutilation in Kenya and Sudan.
PIP: Female genital mutilation is still practiced in 28 African countries despite international calls for its abolishment. A 1991 survey of 1365 14-year-old girls undertaken by a nongovernmental organization in Kenya revealed that 90% had suffered mutilation ranging from the least mutilating form, “sunna” to excision to infibulation. Most of the procedures had taken place when the girls were aged 10-14 years as part of a ritual where the same unsterile knife was used on several girls. Whereas 65% of respondents stated that they approved of female genital mutilation, a little more than a third would abolish the practice. In Sudan, a 1989-90 Demographic and Health Survey of 5860 ever married women aged 15-49 included a number of questions related to female genital mutilation. 89% of respondents were mutilated, and 82% of these had suffered infibulation. This prevalence rate showed a decrease from the 96% level recorded in 1977-78. Among younger women, the incidence of sunna is increasing. Most of these procedures were performed by medical workers such as trained midwives or traditional birth attendants. 79% of the respondents favored continuation of the procedure, but women with a secondary-level education and urban women showed strong opposition. Most women cite tradition as the reason for their approval, and almost half of the women who disapprove cite medical complications. This survey provided the necessary data to implement a policy of eradication of this harmful practice through increasing women’s education and provoking open discussion about the procedure.
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