Midwifery. 2004, 20(4); 299–311.
An explorative study of Sudanese midwives’ motives, perceptions and experiences of re-infibulation after birth
Berggren V, Abdel Salam G, Bergström S, Johansson E, Edberg A
Objective: to explore Sudanese midwives’ motives for and perceptions and experiences of re-infibulation after birth and to elucidate its context and determinants. Design: triangulation of methods, using observational techniques and open-ended interviews. Setting and participants: two government hospitals in Khartoum/Omdurman, Sudan, for the observations and in-depth interviews with 17 midwives. Findings: midwives are among the major stakeholders in the performance of primary female genital cutting (FGC) as well as re-infibulation. Focusing on re-infibulation after birth, midwives were trying to satisfy differing, and sometimes contradictory, perspectives. The practice of re-infibulation (El Adel) represented a considerable source of income for the midwives. The midwives integrated the practice of re-infibulation into a greater whole of doing well for the woman, through an endeavour to increase her value by helping her to maintain her marriage as well as striving for beautification and completion. They were also trying to meet socio-cultural requests, dealing with pressure from the family while balancing on the edge of the law. Key conclusions and implications for practice: the findings confirm that midwives are important stakeholders in perpetuating re-infibulation, and indicate that the motives are more complex than being only economic. The constant balancing between demands from others puts the midwives in a difficult position. Midwives’ potential role to influence views in the preventative work against FGC and re-infibulation should be acknowledged in further abolition efforts.