Wluml dossier 3 June/July 1988 Sexual Mutilations

Other adverse consequences of female circumcision

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Other adverse consequences of female circumcision
Equally important is that female circumcision has serious negative psychosexual effects on women and men alike. Women are most likely, for instance, to meet with lack of orgasm or sexual gratification in intercourse as a result of amputation of the clitoris. This is so because, unlike what is commonly believed in the Sudan, the excision of the clitoris does not reduce desire for sex, but rather it spoils sexual gratification. Among men injury to male sexuality is likely to occur if a man failed to accomplish successful coitus with an infibulated wife. The statistics given by the Sudan Fertility Survey were 79.4 per cent Pharaonic, 16.5 per cent Sunna and 4.1 per cent uncircumcised. The information yielded by Asma El Dareer's survey showed that of 3,171 circumcised females, 2,636 (83 per cent) were Pharaonically circumcised, 386 (19 per cent) had had Intermediate circumcision, 80 (2.5 per cent) had had Sunna circumcision and 69 (2 per cent) could not be classified because they were unable to identify which form they had had.
Surveys undertaken among specific populations indicated that in more recent years there have been significant changes in female circumcision practices. In particular, surveys carried out among college and high school female students reported a rise in the incidence of Sunna and Intermediate forms of circumcision. The statistics given by Gasim Badri, for instance, were 28 per cent Pharaonic, 11 per cent Sunna, 55 per cent Intermediate, and 6 per cent uncircumcised. These figures provided evidence suggesting that there has been a shift away from Pharaonic circumcision among certain categories of females, especially young and urban oriented ones.
The practice of female circumcision in the Sudan is closely correlated with increasing illiteracy whether this illiteracy concerns those who were circumcised or their parents. 81.6% of the respondents were illiterate. Again, of all the women interviewed in Asma El Dareer's research, 43 per cent were illiterate, 84 per cent of their mothers and 42 per cent of their fathers were also illiterate.
Regional and ethno-cultural differences relating to female circumcision are of some interest, but lack of numerical data precludes detailed statistical analysis. However, different observers noted disparity even within the same region. Thus while in Eastern Sudan the Beja tribes, especially the Hadandowa and Beni 'Amir practice the severest type of infibulation, their neighbours, the Rashaida Arabs, hardly carry out any form of circumcision among their women.
In the Sudan such failure is regarded as a slur on a man's virility and it is likely to breed psychological complications ranging from anxiety to impotence. Moreover, these complications may interfere with marital relationships as when a husband accuses his tightly circumcised wife of his impotence or when a wife is adamant about her husband's failure and ready to declare it. In such situations impotence is likely to result in suicide or homicide - the husband taking revenge on himself or on his wife to defend his honour. It can be seen that female circumcision has serious complex and far-reaching psychological, physical and social results.

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