Lead Author: HEMMEDA, Lina
Published by: BMC Women's Health
Year published: 2024

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined as any procedure that involves damage to the female external genitalia. This practice is majorly prevalent in Sudan, as it is estimated that over 12 million Sudanese women are circumcised. This study uncovers rural females’ knowledge and insights about FGM domestically.

A qualitative, deductive study with thematic analysis was conducted. A total of 42 female high school students were recruited and divided into five focus groups, each of which included girls from four different high school classes in the main school of the study area. A topic guide was prepared and used to lead the focus groups. Thematic analysis was used, and the study data had been categorized into four themes: knowledge, procedure and performance, experience, and practice. The condensed meaning units of each theme were identified, then classified to formulate sub-themes.

All the participants indicated that FGM is a traditional practice in the village. The vast majority have heard about it from family members, mainly mothers and grandmothers. Regarding the procedure, all the participants agreed that midwives perform FGM, but most of them don’t know what exactly is being removed. According to all participants, mothers and grandmothers are the decision-makers for FGM. The majority of the participants stated that they do not discriminate between the circumcised and uncircumcised women and most of them agreed that circumcision has negative side effects. They have mentioned pain, difficult urination, and walking as early side effects, while psychological impacts and labor obstruction as late ones. Generally, the majority of the participants agreed that circumcision is not beneficial and should stop.

Knowledge regarding the dangers of FGM among high school girls is better than expected given the high prevalence of the practice. Generally, the process is well understood, the performers are known, the experience is universal, and the side effects are acknowledged. Nevertheless, a majority still showed an intent to circumcise their daughters in the future.