Country: Sudan

Population: 35.5 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49: 87.6% & 12 million women aged 15+ cut

Data Source MICS 2010
15 – 49 (%) 87.6
15 - 19 (%) 83.7
45 - 49 (%) 89.1
Urban (%) 83.5
Rural (%) 89.8
Lowest Region (%) 64.7
Highest Region (%) 99.4
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) --
Flesh removed (%) --
Sewn closed (%) --
Traditionally performed (%) 56.9
Medically performed (%) 41.3
National law Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

The most widely practiced form is Type III (infibulation). Type I (clitoridectomy) is also practised.

Legal status:

Sudan was the first African country to legislate against FGC, declaring the infibulation form of the practice illegal in 1946 in the Sudan Penal Code. In 2009, a national decree was passed in particular states that made all types of FGC illegal.

History of FGC in Sudan:

The Sudanese government has supported an intensive campaign against the practice that involves religious groups, the media and women’s organisations. Sudanese doctors have been involved in studies on FGC since the 1960s, and civil society movements against the practice started in the 1970s, including mass awareness-raising campaigns and strategies to end the practice. In 1979, the first international conference on FGC was held in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

A number of organisations have been involved in work to end FGC in Sudan. Firstly, the Sudan National Committee on Traditional Practices (SNCTP), funded largely by the government of the Netherlands, has focused on producing educational materials, training advocates and putting on public awareness seminars. Secondly, the Organisation for Eradication of Traditional Harmful Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children (ETHP) has worked on providing instruction and information for key groups involved in the practice of FGC, holding workshops, seminars, courses and discussions. They have held a series of public health sessions and have distributed educational material in rural areas across Sudan. Thirdly, the Babiker Badri Organisation has been involved in the anti-FGC campaign, with education programmes aimed at women and children. And fourthly, the Mutawinat Group has conducted a study documenting the status of women who have not undergone FGC. They have also worked to include information about the practice in the school curricula.

The National Council for Child Welfare, the Sudanese Journalists Union and UNICEF have also been working together to end FGC in Sudan by 2018. Together they have organised events to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGC, attended by Sudanese religious scholars, senior journalists and doctors in a show of solidarity.

The ‘Saleema’ programme – a key multi-partner initiative celebrating girls who are not cut, has been particularly successful in Sudan up to now. Saleema is an Arabic word meaning ‘complete, intact – whole, as God created, untouched’. Through positive communication as well as non-formal education, the programme encourages Sudanese families to talk openly about taboo subjects such as FGC, and to consider them in a human rights context. It promotes collective abandonment of the practice at the community level by stimulating new discussions about FGC, with regard to ‘talk pathways’ (who talks to who) and ‘talk content’ (specific issues communicated). The Saleema campaign uses mass media to disseminate its message as widely as possible through distributing booklets, posters and seminars to initiate discussions about FGC. More than 100 religious leaders are involved in the initiative and it is having a profound effect. In June 2012, 640 Sudanese communities had embraced the Saleema initiative, showing the success of the campaign. This approach has attracted interest from other East African countries (Eritrea, Kenya and Djibouti), and Sudanese advocates have made visits to Egypt to share their lessons.

Concerted efforts by the government, NGOs and civil society are paying off, as evidence shows that 64% of boys and men believe FGC should end, alongside 53% of girls and women.

Ongoing challenges:

In 2008, female activists working to combat FGC and sexual violence were subjected to pressure from certain authorities, and subsequently discovered that other NGOs working with similar issues have also had problems getting registered with authorities.

A well organised pro-FGC campaign has posed problems to anti-FGC efforts by accusing the anti-FGC activists of having a hidden agenda, of being foreign agents or of displaying un-Islamic behaviour. Many midwives continue to practice FGC for financial reasons, with 55% of all FGC undertaken by either a doctor or nurse. In order to encourage midwives to discontinue the practice, Khartoum State government initiated 500 job placements in the state’s healthcare institutions.

There has not been a significant decline in the prevalence of FGC.

Practising ethnic groups:

According to one report, all ethnic groups in Sudan practice some form of FGC.

Major languages:

Arabic (official)

English (official)


Ta Bedawie


Major religions:

Islam 97%

Christian 3%

In the news:

The Wire - In Sudan researchers use movies to change attitudes towards female genital cutting

Al Jazeera English - Sudan's midwives take on FGC through education and training

The Guardian - FGC continues within many majority groups despite efforts to eradicate practice

Aljazeera - 'Our midwives are our ambassadors' - how midwives are taking on FGC in Sudan

Sudan Vision - A UW International Knowledge Sharing Conference on women and girls' health

Radio Tamazuj – More than 100 women to undergo fistula operation in Wau

Sudan Vision Daily - Government supports efforts to abandon FGC

Sudan Vision Daily - FGC and the Saleema Regional Forum

Sudan Vision Daily - Salima Consultative Forum to launch today regarding the depiction of FGC in the media

UNFPA- Male partners critical in fight against FGM

Sudan Vision- A change of concept towards FGC

Sudan Tribune - FGC on decline in Sudan as attitudes shift, UNICEF reports

Sudan Vision - Editorial: Zero tolerance for FGC

Sudan Vision - FGC practice down by 4%

Huffington Post - FGC campaign slammed for 'Not getting message across'

London Evening Standard - Sandi Toksvig: How I woke up to FGC

Muslim Community Report – Women in Darfur taught about dangers of female genital cutting

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