Female genital mutilation in the Sudan: survey of the attitude of Khartoum university students towards this practice
- Correspondence to: E Herieka, Bournemouth GU Clinic, Bournemouth, UK;
- Accepted 16 January 2003
Background: Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision is the removal of variable amounts of tissue from the female external genitalia. It is practised all over the world on very young girls. This study was conducted in Sudan where FGM is a criminal offence and not a religious dictate. We assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of this practice among Khartoum university students and compared the differences between male and female student responses.
Methods: An anonymised detailed questionnaire was distributed among the university students. In addition to the participant’s age, marital status, course studying, details regarding their attitude, knowledge of the practice of FGM, and their own experiences were collected.
Results: Of the 500 questionnaires distributed, 414 (82.8%) were returned from 192 (46%) females and 222 (54%) males. 109 (56.8%) of the female respondents were themselves circumcised.18.8% of the male students and 9.4% of the female students thought FGM was recommended by their religion. Only 90 (46.9%) female students compared with 133 (59.9%) male students thought FGM was illegal. Though 16 (8.3%) female respondents thought FGM would increase their chances of marriage, the majority, 166 (74.8%), of the male students would prefer a non-circumcised female.
Conclusions: This study shows that 109 (56.8%) female university students who responded were circumcised. Confusing religious messages and ambiguous laws seem to be responsible for the continuation of this practice. The study highlights the partnership that needs to be established between religious leaders and educationalists to end this medieval practice.