The two Khartoum natives were at our elbows, watching. We talked about the cutting, but also what it’s like for mutilated women.There’s the gruesome wedding night when a bride gets painfully torn open.We discussed whether customs in Khartoum–which sets the nation’s cultural pace and where FGM is becoming less common through active awareness programs–might influence the rest of the country.One person missing from the discussion was my Virginia friend’s fiancee; the medical student.Even though she has spoken about seeing the devastating effects of FGM firsthand in hospitals, I still wondered if she might possibly have undergone the mutilation herself. The women on her mother’s side for three generations had been saved from the knife because her grandfather–the son of a famous leader during Sudan’s freedom fight from Britain–had decided it was wrong.When she came over to the house, I asked her straight out. She told me other party leaders had condemned her grandfather for this decision, but he won out in the end because of his high social rank.According to Sudanese traditions, a bride wears only a raht.Beads of candy or date are connected to the leather pieces which make a belt.
It is forbidden for medical practitioners to perform it, but nonetheless common throughout the north of Sudan.In Sudan, traditional values prevail, and intimate topics are usually restricted to single-sex discussions.