Kenya SRHR Alliance




by srhr

1 months ago


To mark International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 2021 the
following are real-life accounts of experiences from girls who have undergone FGM.

The stories are real and from people who are willing to open up and talk about the painful
experiences they went through as children. These are just a glimpse of what many others
worldwide go through and they highlight the pain, trauma, and psychological effects of FGM
so as to raise awareness and to contribute to the significance of sharing and showing the
various experiences that shape women and the harmful practices involved.

  1.  “It has been years down the line and the pain is still fresh in my mind. All my childhood I had been taught about how no man would ever want an unclean(uncircumcised) girl, how I needed to get purified and become chaste. I’d wondered why I needed to be cut to be seen as clean or pure when Allah created me perfectly. When my time came, an old lady who had probably cut most of the girls from my village had come to my home and in my childish mind, I remember thinking about how ugly she was. She had her assistant with her who held my hand and legs down and I remember the uncomfortable posture I was in. I couldn’t resist or move in any way and I wasn’t lucky enough to receive any anesthesia or pain relief. She had blades and the pain was unbearable. I knew there was nothing wrong with me and It puzzled me why my community felt that it was important to interfere with how God created me. It was frowned upon for me to scream or express my pain in any way as mothers encouraged their daughters to be brave and promised them sweet nothings and praise if they were “good” and brave. I bled a lot and I had to have my thighs bound so as not to open the wound each time I tried walking or at night when I was sleeping. It was effortless to catch an infection, and for some of my friends who had undergone the cut at the same time as me, it took more than a month to heal. I am still psychologically affected and the experience had such a traumatizing effect on me. I grow into a woman I become curious about how different it will for me to experience things that make me feel like a woman such as childbirth and how being cut will affect my sexual health when I am ready to find a partner. I do not hold any resentment towards my mother for subjecting me to FGM as she did it out of ignorance and what she thought was love, the same way most mothers from my community and generations of women before us believed it was the only way of protecting a girl’s honor and her chastity. ”(Anonymous).
  2.  “I can’t recall everything but what I do remember is that I was 11 and the experience in
    general was extremely dehumanizing and embarrassing. It is not my fault but I can’t help but
    carry shame and feelings of discomfort. I received an injection to numb my genitals so that I
    wouldn’t feel the pain from what I was about to be subjected to. The recovery period after the
    cut made me feel like I lost some of my freedom as I had my legs bound and wasn’t allowed

    to move as freely as I was used to. I was stitched and had to be very careful so as not to open
    up the stitches and I spent most of my time in bed. Looking back I really feel like it was such
    an inhumane thing to put your child through, It felt like I lost something. The recovery was
    long and extremely uncomfortable and to this day I haven’t been able to really talk about it
    with people or even think about it. (Anonymous)

    3. I was in class 4 or 5 when it happened to me. It was during the school holidays and I was
    blissfully playing outside with my friends from our neighborhood. My mother called me
    from the house and I did not hold any suspicion when she told me to go upstairs and take a
    shower. I made sure to make my shower quick and dressed up equally fast and ran back
    outside to continue playing. My playtime was cut short when my mother grabbed me and put
    me in a room where I saw my aunt, our neighbor, my cousin, and a woman I’d never seen
    before. I didn’t realize what was about to happen until I saw razor blades and I immediately
    went into a panic. I started screaming and trying to get out of the room when they tried
    pulling down my pants and forcing me to lay down. I was really struggling and demanded
    that they started with my cousin as I was really crying and frightened. In the end, they had to
    forcibly hold down my hands and legs and I gave in as there was no one who was willing to
    help me. I was completely helpless and the people whom I trusted were in support of what
    was happening to me. It was extremely painful and I would never wish that kind of pain on
    anyone. I am lucky that I wasn’t really affected mentally but I often think of the unforeseen
    complications of FGM that will likely affect me in the future. My community thinks it’s a way to
    prevent promiscuity and unchasteness in girls but I truly see no benefit in FGM. I strongly
    believe it has nothing to do with how one interacts with the opposite gender and chastity.”


    4.  ” The following narrative is of a victim from Dadaab refugee camp told to me by a source
    who lives in a county where FGM is conducted despite it being outlawed.
    She was 9 when it happened to her and her parents strongly believed that it was necessary
    and part of the culture. It was brutal and this particular case shows the various degrees of
    severity that FGM has. In some cases after being mutilated, the area is stitched up and the
    files are left with a small hole through which urine and period blood can come out from. As
    per the account, the victim here has extreme difficulty urinating afterward and this led to an
    infection. She was also stitched up using traditional means which included the use of herbs
    and medicines that glued the stitches to the parts of her that were mutilated. A while later, she
    was married off to an older man who impregnated her. As expected she suffered a myriad of
    complications during birth, hospitals were far and she had to give birth at home with
    assistance from traditional midwives. Her child was unable to come out as the parts of her
    reproductive system that were meant to stretch during childbearing were missing due to
    mutilation from FGM. The midwives who were assisting in her birth had to cut her open and
    unfortunately, both lives were lost in the process. This just goes to show how FGM has long-lasting effects that put women’s lives and mental health in danger.”


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