Findings about Morbidity and Mortality

In the 1980s some African clinician-activists from countries that practice those rites documented and brought to the world's attention the accompanying morbidity and mortality. Those pioneering medical studies include the ones conducted in the Sudan by Asma El Dareer (1982), in Sierra Leone by Olayinka Koso-Thomas (1987), and in Somalia by Raquiya Haji Dualeh Abdalla (1982). The death, infection, and disabilities associated with the rites are well established, challenging local beliefs that the rites promote health and well-being. For example, as Koso-Thomas (p. 10) pointed out, stable medical evidence discredits the belief that "death could result if, during delivery, the baby's head touches the clitoris," and Abdalla (p.16) pointed to the disutility of regional practices of putting "salt into the vagina after childbirth ... [because this] induces the narrowing of the vagina—to restore the vagina to its former shape and size and make intercourse more pleasurable for the husbands."

Some of those studies suggest that many women would prefer not to perform the rites if they were not necessary for the marriage of their daughters and that more younger women are having second thoughts about this cultural practice for their own daughters (Moschovis).

Other epidemiological studies have confirmed the morbidity and mortality associated with those rites and have demonstrated that they are still widespread in some regions. For example, Daphne Williams Ntiri (1993) found that in some African countries most young girls between infancy and ten years of age have received Type 3 circumcision from traditional practitioners who often used sharpened or hot stones, razors, or knives, frequently without anesthesia or antibiotics. The WHO estimates that worldwide about 80 percent of the rites involve excision of the clitoris and labia minora and that infibulation is done in about 15 percent of all cases (WHO, 2000). In some regions, such as Egypt, Guinea, Somalia, Eritrea, and Mali, national surveys indicate that 94 to 99 percent of women are circumcised (WHO, 2000, 2001).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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