Female circumcision (the partial or complete removal of the
external female genitalia) is widely practised in the Sudan. It has persisted
for centuries because of lack of awareness and knowledge about its adverse
physical and psychosocial consequences and because of a firm belief in its
supposed benefits of ensuring female chastity and securing marriage and
subsequent harmonious family life.
Why are women circumcised? These operations are medically unnecessary, agonisingly painful and extremely
dangerous. Some girls die from shock and loss of blood. Others develop
psychiatric problems from the trauma. Many have chronic infections lasting a
lifetime and there are numerous troubles with childbirth, intercourse and
Most of the estimated 70 million circumcised women and girls live in certain parts of
Africa and the Middle East. There the practice thrives for a variety of social
Asma Khader is Coordinator of Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J) and Counsel on violence against women to the Permanent Arab Court. She is a lawyer, teacher, author, and leading advocate to outlaw honour killings.