Body Mutations




Mende People

Sande Society



color symbolism


body mutations


Poro Society



    A key element of Sande initiation is the clitoridectomy, or female circumcision.  This excruciating surgery is supposed to foreshadow the pain a woman experiences during childbirth.  The shock of this experience also tests a woman's physical endurance.  The shared pain of the clitoridectomy creates permanent bonds between the initiates.  Vows that express a social bond are taken after the operation; these vows are a metaphor for the support they will have during the pains of childbirth.  

    This procedure is considered necessary to change children, who are considered to be of neutral sex before the procedure, to heterosexual gendered adults.  Circumcision is thought to remove from the female's residue of maleness.   (Phillips)

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