We waited anxiously for December, which is normally a long holiday in Kenya for Primary and high school students. It’s a holiday where most cultural/community events involving school kids take place. As young girls growing up we wanted to be part of the celebration, we wanted it to be our turn, we wanted to be cut. Girls mostly group themselves according to age sets or relationship like family or friends for this particular occasion.
In most communities in our area female genital mutilation is not only seen as a rite of passage but a sense of pride, identity and one of the process that ensures a girl is socially accepted by community members. So as we prepared for the “big” day we were so happy, anxious and also afraid. We wanted to experience that pride associated with the cutting/mutilation, we wanted to be socially accepted by our community members, we wanted to be married to one of the men in our communities one day and we wanted that kind of a life where nobody will talk/laugh at us behind our backs for being that woman who is still a “child”. We wanted that thing we grows so long and hangs in between our legs as were made to believe by older girls to be cut. So we made dialogues with our mothers, like made our mothers to make plans for us on which holiday and which group of girls to be circumcised with. Most people believe that parents force young girls to be mutilated but the truth is most of the time girls force parents to make such decisions because from a young age they are made to believe that circumcision is a must, normal, good and without it you will not be part of your community or get married.
On the eventful day we were cleaned, our houses cleaned, a number of happy women neighbors fill the house and the men are happy that you are going to transition into womanhood. Our innocent brothers are happy that there will be slaughtering of a goat or two with plenty of meat and they will be staring at you with that begging eyes of “please don’t forget to share with me the meat/goodies/sweets and the delicious meals.” The procedure is done without anesthesia, you are just cut, a piece of your body is just cut/mutilated and there is nothing to prevent any bleeding. How painful!! You are not allowed to scream, screaming is a sense of a cowardice and any girl who screams will be known by the whole villagers/young boys as a coward. She will be a shame to her mother. So you are not allowed to see the razor blade or the cutting being done. As a young girl to be circumcised you are made to squat on a stool facing the circumciser with someone holding your eyes from behind and spreading your legs wide apart. The process is different for different communities ranging from partial/ total removal of the clitoris, piercing or total mutilation of the female genitalia. All have serious effects on the body of a woman ranging from sexuality, infections to complications during child birth.
For a whole week we were celebrated heroes, every girl’s legs were tied together (from hip to ankle), walking/urinating was a problem. Our mothers keep on applying traditional herbs to reduce the pain and enhance healing. We were happy about constantly getting gifts, little did we know of the side effects of the whole issue and its dangers to our health.
As we grew old, progressed in school and gained knowledge we came to learn that Female genital mutilation has no any benefit to the girls/society, there is no medical reason for that and its only aim is endangering a woman’s health. After we joined high school and interacted with students from different communities, we discovered that, that small organ in a female genitalia does not grow long and protrude from their panties like we were made to believe. That uncircumcised girls are normal, doing so well in their lives, getting married and nothing seems to be wrong with them. In school when girls discuss about FGM in class, the circumcised ones were filled with anxiety, sometimes depressed and scared. There is fear of what the future might hold when getting married and delivering. You feel out of place and it’s hard to communicate to others even when you have issues like infection with your genitalia. Menstruation days are among the toughest. The pain is sometimes unimaginable and unbearable. Despite all, we have survived, we hope to survive more and we only pray/hope that one day, just someday this whole practice will come to an end and every girl will be happy with all her body organs and nerves intact.