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This paper critically investigates the criminalization of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Red Sea, a state with one of the highest prevalence rates of FGM/C in Sudan (where 89% of females have undergone the procedure). Infibulation, also called “pharaonic circumcision” or “kushabi,” is the most severe type of FGM/C is widely practiced in Red Sea, especially among conservative tribal groups such as the Beja tribe and its subgroups Hadendawa and Beni Amer. These tribal groups played a key role in keeping criminalization of FGM/C out of the Red Sea State Child Act of 2007. Although the act was revised in 2011 to address FGM/C, it does so only weakly and does not clearly prohibit the most severe types of FGM/C. In essence, conservative political forces in Red Sea have been able to shape the legislative process.

Liv Tønnessen

Director of Center on Law and Social Transformation and Senior Researcher