I am not an FGM activist, nor am I a person who actively sought to find out about it. I simply knew that it was wrong.
I have been working with NESTAC since November 2019 and the more I delve into offering my marketing expertise, I also am learning to understand FGM, the practices and consequences.
From what I have learnt, I could write an essay on why FGM is bad, how it affects women, girls and their families. I could write about how culture plays a huge part, how this practice has been taking place for years and that it will take time to change the mindsets.
I could take a feminist stand point and say that women are being denied the right to enjoy sex even before they can know what it is. I can talk about the trauma to the body and mind that a victim cannot begin to understand but it will take her years to recover from.
Instead I am going to talk about how being placed in the mist of all this information, having spoken to victims, past advocates and health professionals I want to talk about the lack of respect and total disregard for a woman’s body as well as physical and mental health.
From what I have learnt from a young age a woman’s body, is not her own but rather is being groomed for marriage. Therefore she is cut, that cut is not only physical but it becomes emotional too because it is painful, physically and mentally. The cutting is often not spoken about out loud by anyone, but you are then proclaimed “clean” , a woman, respected. Which makes me ask the question what was wrong with the person before the cutting? Why the lack of respect, why was she unclean?
Whilst the victim, is outwardly respected, outwardly clean, what happens within? The suffering in silence and all of the complications that those women end up with as well as the reject of a society that was supposed to protect her if she speaks out. What happens to her? When she is crying, hurting, unable to conceive yet still blamed, unable to fell emotional attachment to her husband and branded a bad wife. What happens to her then.
Why are women subdued to suffer? Where was the importance of the victim’s existence at the time of the cutting? Who was there to speak out for her? Learning and working on anti FGM projects really has me triggered, asking questions and trying to understand the why.
During this journey I have met many women, some like me who didn’t know much about FGM, other who are past victims and some who have chosen to become activists. From that I think that the message is clear, the reasons why FGM is done precedes even the one practicing at the beginning of this century, no one really knows when or why it started simply that it needs to be done, a tradition that needs to be upheld.
I simply want to say to those that practice FGM respect us and our bodies. Let us make the decisions for ourselves and do not take pride in mutilating us and brandishing us as prizes in the eyes of society. We are more than that and we deserve more respect.
But I am one small voice in the loud echo of culture and tradition that people sometimes fiercely push to uphold and upkeep. It doesn’t mean I should stop, my question now is when will you join me?