This paper examines the experience of Sudan by analysing the factors that promote and support the abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and other harmful social practices. Despite the fact that FGM/C is still widely practiced in all regions of northern Sudan, women’s intention to circumcise their daughters has decreased significantly during the last 16 years. Attitudes are changing and today, actors are mobilizing across the country to end the practice. This paper examines these changes. It analyses programmes that support ending FGM/C in Sudan and highlights the key factors that promote collective abandonment of the practice, including the roles of community dialogue, human rights deliberation, community-led activities, and the powerful force of local rewards and punishment. The Sudan experience demonstrates that social norms can change when a new understanding and appreciation of communities’ traditions and values is introduced. At policy level, the paper describes the adoption of laws and policies that prohibit or criminalize all forms of FGM/C and the introduction of integrated communication campaigns that have mobilized multiple actors to adopt and voice a consistent and clear stance against FGM/C. The paper explains how those factors have created an enabling environment that promotes the abandonment of harmful practices as well as the fulfilment of women’s and children’s rights more broadly. The process of changing harmful social norms and practices is complex and involves the interplay of many different forces. However, the Sudan experience demonstrates that a major shift can occur at community level and widespread abandonment of FGM/C can be envisioned.

Sustainable Development Goals:
Related Subject(s): Children and Youth
Countries: Sudan

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  • Published online: 31 May 2010
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