Inaam died on December 6, 2005 in Sudan from severe infections following circumcision. Against her father's will, Inaam's grandmother brought her to a midwife to have her circumcised. The circumcision caused extensive bleeding, and an infection developed. By the time Inaam was brought to the hospital, it was too late and she died. This photograph shows Inaam in her bed after she died, with ceremonial henna on her hands.
Inaam's story is one that is all too common in Sudan, where female circumcision (also known as female genital mutilation) is a common practice. In Sudan, 90% of women have undergone circumcision, and it is estimated that two million girls worldwide are circumcised each year. As you can see, the consequences of female circumcision are extreme and can result in death. It also produces many lasting reproductive health complications.
The health risks involved in the procedure are tremendous, and there is no benefit to the practice, only life-threatening risk. While the practice of female circumcision is a social custom in Sudan; it is not religiously prescribed, and with education and changing social norms, this life threatening and debilitating practice can be stopped.
In 2005 Population Media Center aired a radio drama titled, Ashreat Al Amal ("Sails of Hope") throughout Khartoum State in Sudan. Through role-modeling Ashreat Al Amal taught about the risks and complications of female circumcision.
One listener said "(The character) Al Shoul, was the woman who circumcised the girls. Khitan (female circumcision) has a serious impact on girls during their menstrual cycle, marriage, and delivery, and there are infections, especially if they have pheronic circumcision. This serial program argued about such issues that our society is interested in."
Another listener said "(The midwife) Al Shoul and (her husband) Al Dai's daughter died when she was circumcised. This is a very negative practice, and I wish to be in a better position so that I can guide all mothers (against it). I was going to be forced to circumcise my daughter, but I refused this totally. Al Shoul was a killer of little children."
Another listener said "Khitan is one of the issues that are discussed a lot lately, because it causes familial and social problems and doesn't have any religious background and does not give pride to the girl."
During the time in which the program was aired, there was a consistent increase in the percentage of the population who believed that female circumcision should be eradicated (from 28.6% to 65.4%). The baseline survey, conducted prior to Ashreat Al Amal going on the air, showed that 56.5% of respondents reported that eradicating female circumcision was not at all important to them. Only 28.6% reported that eradicating female circumcision was important to them. At the conclusion of Ashreat Al Amal, the endline survey showed that 65.4% of respondents reported that female circumcision should be eradicated, while 17.6% reported that the practice should continue.
As you can see, the changes that occur as a result of PMC's dramas are dramatic, and in many instances are life-changing. In the instance of Inaam Abdul Wahab, it might have saved her life. (Courtesy of Population Media Center)