SUDAN (Nuba, Shilluk, Bari, Dinka, Baja, Dogons, Yoruba, Mandari, Kuku; ®Zande)



IndexAfrica Sudan

In Sudan of the late sixties, most children overheard and saw parental intercourse by the nature of the small dwellings in which they reside (Elsarrag, 1968)[1]. Formerly, twelve was considered a suitable age for marriage (Zenkovsky, 1945)[2], two years after circumcision.

Pfeiffer (1963:p310)[3]: “Knaben und Mädchen haben, solange sie noch wirklich Kinder sind, freien Umgang, und es kommt häufig zu sexuellen Spielereien”.


Details about Pharaonic circumcision were documented in Boddy (1982, 1997, 2003)[4]. A recent work is that by Almroth (2005[5]; cf. Almroth et al., 2001[6]). Though not mentioned in the Qur’an, and outlawed by both Islamic and Sudanese law, Pharaonic type circumcision is said to be practised, sometimes at an age of seven days, for the Islamic argument of “protecting female modesty and chastity” (e.g., House, 1988:p299)[7]. It should nevertheless be observed that medieval Muslims who practised female excision “perceived the custom as one that had religious sanction” (Berkey, 1996)[8]. Female circumcision seems to be declining slightly in some areas of Sudan (Islam and Uddin, 2001)[9]. For some circumcision narratives, consider Abusharaf (2001)[10]. In a recent study[11], of 200 female doctors towards female genital mutilation/female circumcision, 90% believe that either culture or traditions with or the latter together with religion and reduction of sexual desire are the reasons behind continuation of the practice. Of students, the 14% who favoured the practice did so for various reasons; religious (males 77.4%/females 50% of favouring), social and cultural (males 10%/females 10%), sexual (males 2.6%/females 10%), and a combination of above factors (males 10%/females 30%)[12].





Nuba, Shilluk, Bari, Dinka, Baja, Dogons, Yoruba, Mandari, Kuku; ®Zande




Additional refs.:




§         Al Azharia Jahn, Samia (1980) Zur Frage des Zahen Fortlebens der Beschneidung der Frauen mit Besonderer Berucksichtigung der Verhaltnisse im Sudan, Curare 3,1:23-30

§         Badri, A. E. (?) Female Circumcision in The Sudan, in Association of African women for research and development, Women and reproduction in Africa.

§         Badri, Amna Elsadik (1984) Female Circumcision in the Sudan, Ahfad Journal 1:11-21

§         Badri, Amna Elsadik (1992) Female Circumcision in the Sudan: Change and Continuity, in Women and Reproduction in Africa = Femmes et Reproduction en Afrique, p129-150. Dakar: AAWORD

§         Barclay, Harold P. Buurri al Lamaab (1964) A Suburban Village in the Sudan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press (pp 157-8; 237-40 on genital operations)

§         Boddy, Janice (1982) Parallel Worlds: Humans, Spirits and Zar Possession in Rural Northern Sudan. Diss.: University of British Columbia

§         Chrisler, J. C. & Zittel, C. B.             (1998)    Menarche stories: reminiscences of college students from Lithuania, Malaysia, Sudan, and the United States, Health Care Women Int 19,4:303-12

§         El Dareer, A A. (1983) Attitudes of Sudanese people to the practice of female circumcision, Int J Epidemiol 12,2:138-44

§         Euler, M. (2002) Female Genital Mutilation A Report on the Present Situation in Sudan. Internationales Katholisches Missionswerk e.V. []

§         Sudan Organisation Against Torture (1999) Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan. Online report []

§         Gordon, D. (1991) Female circumcision and genital operations in Egypt and the Sudan: a dilemma for medical anthropology, Med Anthropol Quart 5,1:3-14

§         Gruenbaum, Ellen (1996) The Cultural Debate Over Female Circumcision: the Sudanese Are Arguing This One Out for Themselves, Med Anthropol Quart N.S. 10,4:455-75

§         Halim, Abdel & Asma Mohamed. (1995) Rituals and Angels: Female Circumcision and the Case of Sudan. From Basic Needs to Basic Rights: Women's Claim to Human Rights, p249-66. Edited by Margaret Schuler. Washington, D.C.: Women and Development International

§         Huber, Yvonne (1992) Weibliche Beschneidung im Sudan. Bern: Institut fur Ethnologie

§         Huddleston, C. E. (1949) Female genital mutilation in the Sudan, Lancet, 9 April: 626

§         Kheir, E. et al. (nd) Female circumcision: attitudes and practices in Sudan. 1697-1717

§         Lightfoot-Klein, H. (1983) Pharaonic Circumcision of Females in the Sudan, Medicine & Law 2:18-9

§         Lightfoot-Klein, H. (1989a) The sexual experience and marital adjustment of genitally circumcised and infibulated females in the Sudan, J Sex Res 26,3:375-92

§         Lightfoot-Klein, H. (1989b) Über Radikale Beschneidung von Frauen im Sudan, Zeitschr f Sexualforsch 2,2:147-59

§         Mustafa, A. Z. (1966) Female circumcision and infibulation in the Sudan, J Obstetrics & Gynaecol 73:302-6

§         Neven-Spence, B. (1949) Female circumcision in the Sudan, Lancet, 26 March:457

§         Otor, S. C. J. & Pandey, A. (1999) Adolescent transition to coitus and premarital childbearing in Sudan: a biosocial context, J Biosoc Sci 31,3:361-74

§         Parker, M. (1995) Rethinking Female Circumcision: Circumcision in the Sudan, Africa 65,4:506-23

§         Pridie, E. D. et al. (1945) Female Circumcision in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Khartoum: Sudan Medical Service

§         Rushwan, Hamid et al. (1983) Female Circumcision in the Sudan: Prevalence, Complications, Attitudes and Change; A Report of a Study Conducted by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Khartoum 1977-1982. Khartoum: The Faculty

§         Sami, I. R. (1986) Female circumcision with special reference to the Sudan, Ann Tropical Paediatrics 6:99-115

§         Sexual Mutilations. Case studies presented at the workshop: African women speak on female circumcision, Khartoum (October 21-25, 1984), Babiker Badri - Scientific Association for Women Studies, p49-53 []

§         Shamma, A. O. A. et al. (1949) Female circumcision in the Sudan, Lancet, 26 March:544

§         Shandall, A. A. (1967) Circumcision and infibulation of females, Sudan Med J 5,4:178-212

§         Worsley, A. (1938) Infibulation and Female Circumcision: A Study of a Little Known Custom (Sudan), J Obstet & Gynaecol British Empire 45,4:680-90

§         Baseline Survey on Female Genital Mutilation Prevalence and Cohort Assemby in CFCI Three Focus States, Sudan.  Assignment Report to UNICEF, Khartoum, Sudan. By Prof. Ahmed Bayoumi, November 2003





Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2005



[1] Elsarrag, M. E. (1968) Psychiatry in the Northern Sudan: a study of comparative psychiatry, Br J Psychia 114,513:945-8

[2] Zenkovsky, S. (1945) Marriage customs in Omdurman, Sudan Notes & Records 26,2:241-55

[3] Pfeiffer, W. M. (1963) Die Kindheit bei den Sudanesen, Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychia 12:308-11

[4] Boddy, J. (Nov. 1982) Womb as Oasis: The symbolic context of Pharaonic circumcision in rural Northern Sudan, Am Ethnologist 9:682-98. Rewritten as ‘Womb as Oasis: The Symbolic Context of Pharaonic Circumcision in Rural Northern Sudan’, in Lancaster, Roger N. & Leonard, Micaela di (Eds., 1997) The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy. New York: Routledge, p309-24. See also Boddy, J. (2003) Barbaric custom and colonial science: teaching the female body in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. (Midwives Training School in Omdurman, 1920s-1930s), Social Analysis, 47,2;60 et seq.

[5] Almroth, Lars (2005) Genital mutilation of girls in Sudan. Community- and hospital-based studies on female genital cutting and its sequelae. Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of International Health (IHCAR), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Karolinska University Press []

[6] Almroth L, Almroth-Berggren V, Hassanein OM. A community-based study on the change of practice of female genital mutilation in a Sudanese village. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2001;74:179-185

[7] House, W. J. (1988) The Status of Women in the Sudan, J Modern Afr Stud 26,2:277-302

[8] Berkey, J. P. (1996) Circumcision Circumscribed: Female Excision and Cultural Accommodation in the Medieval near East, Int J Middle East Stud 28,1:19-38

[9] Islam, M. M. & Uddin, M. M. (2001) Female circumcision in Sudan: Future prospects and strategies for eradication, Int Family Planning Perspectives 27,2:71-6 []

[10] Abusharaf, R. M. (Spring 2001) Virtuous cuts: female genital circumcision in an African ontology, Differences 12,1:112-40

[11] Magied, Ahmed Abdel & Shareef, Shaza (2003) Knowledge, perception and attitudes of a sector of female health providers towards FGM-case study: female doctors, Ahfad J 20,2:4 et seq.

[12] Herieka, E & Dhar. J. (2003) Female genital mutilation in the Sudan: survey of the attitude of Khartoum university students towards this practice, Sexually Transmitted Infections 79,3:220