Sunna Gudnin

An Alternative Ritual to Infibulation in Merka Somalia
  • Pia Grassivaro Gallo
  • Lydia Rabuffetti
  • Franco Viviani


This paper examines a ceremonial alternative to infibulation. The ceremony, called sunna gudnin, was conceived and carried out in the Merka district of Somalia. Its goal is to substitute infibulation that includes sunna with sunna gudnin, which has been systematically carried out every six months both in town and in the bush. About 150,000 residents living in thirty villages and in the capital (Merka) are involved, and, today, around 1,300 girls have been affected. The three main aspects of sunna gudnin are: the persuasion, the ceremony, and the verification. These are carried out by two teams of Somalis. The first is a religious team that unequivocally persuades the mothers that infibulation does not belong to the Koran. This includes presentation of a Somali translation of the pertinent parts of the Koran, allowing women direct access to the sacred text. The second is a health team that carries out the sunna on the girls and then teaches their grandmothers to verify the acceptance of this innovation, with the aim of spreading knowledge of it to other villages. Sunna gudnin is proposed and accepted without any form of violence, sanction, or coercion. Only psychological and social tools are used (persuasion and acceptance by means of talks).


Young Girl Female Genital Mutilation Health Team Female Circumcision Banana Tree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Price G. Factors related to Sudanese families deciding against female circumcision. Geneva: WHO/EMRO; 1992. pp. 342–359.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pratiknya L. Female Circumcision in Indonesia: a synthesis profile of cultural, religious, and health values. AIDOS/SWDO, Rome, 1989. pp. 51–6.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hosken FP. The Hosken report: Genital and sexual mutilation of females. 4th rev. ed. Lexington, MA: Women’s International Network News; 1994.pp. 416–8.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Grassivaro Gallo P. Figlie d’Africa mutilate. Indagini epidemiologiche sull’escissione in Italia. Torino: L’Harmattan Italia; 1998. (Fig. 1, Table 1).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Abusharaf, Rogaia Mustafa. Unmasking tradition. The Sciences 1998;38(2):22–7. (March-April, 1998) URL: MA98/AbusharafFrame.html.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Adhiambo L. Cut no more. East African Standard Society, 19 December 1996: pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Editor. Initiation sans mutilation à Dodoma. Bulletin du CIAF (Comité Interministériel Chargé de l’Action pour les Femmes) 1998;24:8–9.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Editor. New UN envoy target female “cuts”. Daily Nations, 24 September 1997, p. 22.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hemlund Y. Cutting without ritual and ritual without cutting: female circumcision and the re-ritualization of initiation in the Gambia. In: Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change. Shell-Duncan B, Hernlund Y (eds). Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Editor. La jeunesse se mobilise. Bulletin du CIAF (Comité Interministériel Chargé de l’Action pour les Femmes) 1997;21:7.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Abusharaf, Rogaia Mustafa. Unmasking tradition. The Sciences 1998;38(2):22–7. (March-April, 1998). URL: MA98/AbusharafFrame.html.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mondher Kilani. L’excision mise en perspective. Amnistie! 1998;4:10–1.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gnonsoa, General Inspector of the University Service of Ivory Coast, personal communication, 1998.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Editor. Somalie: une communauté met fin aux MGF. Bulletin du CIAF (Comité Interministériel Chargé de l’Action pour les Femmes) 1996;19:9.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Editor. Somalie. Bulletin du CIAF (Comité Interministériel Chargé de l’Action pour les Femmes) 1999;25:16.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Editor. Formation des moniteurs (TOT). Eradication des MGF: quinze ans d’action, 1984/1999. Geneve, 2000: p. 22.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mana Sultan Aburahman Ali and E. Sommavilla, 2000 (personal comunication).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mohamed A, 1999 (personal communication).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gnonsoa A, 1998 (personal communication).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Grassivaro Gallo
    • 1
  • Lydia Rabuffetti
    • 1
  • Franco Viviani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PaduaItaly

Personalised recommendations