THE CUTTING DAY

Sabdio Roba
Posted March 1, 2018 from Kenya

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.

This story was submitted in response to You Are a Silence Breaker.

Comments 13

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Jill Langhus
Mar 01, 2018
Mar 01, 2018

Hi Sabdio. Thanks for sharing your sad, but very real story. So, what circumcision did you have; the whole removal or just part of the genitalia? I always think this is one of the worst crimes in humanity; mostly because it serves absolutely no purpose and because of the long term effects. Are girls being educated now in your community so they don't have to wait to go to school to realize there isn't any benefit to the ritual/tradition? Will you be a part of the new education for these poor girls?

Sabdio Roba
Mar 01, 2018
Mar 01, 2018

Thanks jlanghus,

Most of us were partial removal. Something that I forgot to capture, there are a number of anti-FGM campaigns and we try to do advocacy against the practise training women and girls on its effects. I always love to be part of any education for girls.

Cheers..

Jill Langhus
Mar 02, 2018
Mar 02, 2018

I see. Do you have complications from this, then? How horrible:( Yes, I bet. I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you're doing to educate girls.

Sabdio Roba
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

yes, there are complications but it also depends with the type of FGM that you underwent. From bad, to worst to horrible complications.
Happy Women's day

Jill Langhus
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Yes, I would imagine so:-( I hope you aren't in a lot of constant discomfort due to this unnecessary and heinous procedure?! Happy Women's Day to you, too!

Olutosin
Mar 01, 2018
Mar 01, 2018

Hey my dearest sister, I was cut in Nigeria too. Now its a crime but many local people still do it secretly. I refused to cut my daughters. Now there is a greater awareness in our cities.

May this barbaric act end now. Amen

Sabdio Roba
Mar 02, 2018
Mar 02, 2018

Thanks dear, 

Its so sad that this thing is almost everywhere in Africa. By refusing to cut your daughters you have already started the process of getting ride of it though it maybe long term. It needs the collaboration of so many of us bring this to an end.

Regards..

Mary Ero
Mar 04, 2018
Mar 04, 2018

Hi Sabdio

I cringed and winced reading this. It is so painful to read, and I cannot imagine what it would actually feel like. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this.

Mary

Sabdio Roba
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Thanks dear,
Its surely a painful thing..
Happy Women's day.

Sophie Ngassa
Mar 05, 2018
Mar 05, 2018

Dear sis, I can now understand the ingnorance about the negative effects of our cultural practicses on women's lives Thanks for taking time to explain how these things happen. It is a pity that women go through such pain. Happy Women's day.

Sabdio Roba
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Thanks dear and happy women's day too..

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Mar 10, 2018
Mar 10, 2018

Hello, Sabdio,

Because of your story, I finally took the courage to watch the movie Desert Flower. It is Waris' true-to-life account on FGM. She was cut at 3 years old. Her two sisters died. One due to excessive bleeding after the cut. The other, after complications on childbirth.

Because it was visual, I cringed and cried as I watched the little girl screamed as she was cut. The vultures ate what was removed from her. Oh how traumatizing for a child! And how agonizing to know that this is still going on in African countries. How many girls are still screaming and traumatized?

I could not understand how this all began. But clearly, this must STOP.

Thank you for adding your voice on this issue. May more women share their stories. May there be strength in numbers. I pray that we wake up to a day that all forms of inhumane practices be gone.

Hug, sister!

Sabdio Roba
Mar 12, 2018
Mar 12, 2018

Thank you dear Karen,
Its great you have watched desert flower movie. It gives you visual understanding of what normally happens.
Love
Sabdio