“I was 12 years old when I was “circumcised”. I knew what was going to happen, I knew they were going to cut me because a lot of my friends had had it done and I’d had a look – it was quite normal for girls to have a look at each other. My friends had told me that it was really painful, that it was horrible, so I was terrified. It happened when my mother was away and relatives were looking after me and my sister.
They knew they had to kill my mum before they could get me. She wasn’t educated but she was fiercely against it. They all thought she pampered me too much. They felt like she was spoiling me and my kid sister was only 6.
They had made up their minds that they would help her avert the ruin that would come to her if we were let “loose” and we became pregnant. My mum had done the procedure when she was young too. Told everyone how useless it was. It made her childbearing almost unbearable.
But that day, she wasn’t home. She had gone to the market like she does every fortnight.
In the morning, when I was at school, they told me it was ‘my time’. My uncle and aunt came to take me from the school. It was my sister’s time too. The traditional circumciser was my paternal grandmother.
It wasn’t just me and my sister though, there were many girls who were to be cut in my grandmother’s big compound. You could literarily feel the dread in every eyes. I was terrified. I wanted my mother but she was many miles away oblivious to what was going on.
They usually did this every Saturday, but I guess that they choose a school day when many people who were enlightened had gone to school.
I wanted to wail but my sister stood there, tearless and I made up my mind to be strong.
My sister went in first. That was the first time I had seen her struggle then or any time in her life. She was such a confident, free-spirited girl. I broke down. Her scream rose in all the clan and her shriek cut through me. I have never felt so helpless.
I knew when they had cut her because she was silent. Too silent.
I heard she had fainted. The women talked in hushed tones
I didn’t fight when it was my turn. I just followed like a sheep to be slaughtered. Suddenly, a woman broke into the small house. She said in our dialect that my sister was no longer breathing.
My grandmother whose hand had firmly held mine let go. I ran after and saw my sister lying in a pool of blood, her own blood.
Two days later, I didn’t have a sister no more.”
FGM took more sexual pleasure from me, it took away the most beautiful person in my life
“I ran away the first time they made an attempt to cut me.
But they caught me. My mother said I was disgracing her. Had she not prepared me for this? Why was I behaving like a small girl? Did I want to be useless like those our neighbour’s children? She asked me.
They say my father couldn’t watch. So it was my mother and other women that dragged me and they were stronger.
I was fighting as hard as I could, but they were stronger and easily tied me down.
I screamed until I was hoarse.
The old woman, the cutter waltz out a new sharp razor and I swear I think I saw her snarl. Then I felt the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life and then, I don’t know what happened next.
When I came to myself, I saw a woman injecting me with something. She said it would make me feel better but I doubted it. I was aching all over. I couldn’t even tell if it was my vagina or my entire body.
“Be strong” My mother said. I didn’t even know how to respond to that.
As my mum spoke to me she said I had to behave nothing had happened. How?
She said I had to relieve myself. How?
When I eventually did, it did hurt like it was happening all over again.
The pain was unbearable. I jumped, and some of the stitches opened. My mother, said I would have to be sewn up again but my father refused.
When I started having periods, the problems started. The sex was even wors