It was a hot Saturday morning, and I decided to go to the hair salon in my street to wash my hair. There was already a long queue of people on getting there, and I was the fifth person coupled with two other customers that were already being attended to.
One was having a pedicure session; the second person was attempting to loosen the gel up hairdo she made, and the other, which I guess was the second customer’s friend, was chewing gum irritatingly by the side while flipping a magazine that was filled with different hairstyles.
The owner of the salon urged us to exercise a little patience. I was fixated on my phone when I heard the second customer’s friend burst out a laugh, “all these people use to have big penises and I hear they are not even circumcised.” I looked towards the direction her eyes were looking to find a man across the shop by the gutter washing himself with a rubber kettle; he must have peed or something, that was like a ritual for northerners, he was wearing a northern attire.
I was caught off guard when the owner made the short confession of being circumcised.
“You don’t mean it,” blabbered on the second customer’s friend.
“But you are a girl, how does that even work?” She went on to ask.
“It’s a long story,” she sighed. I was only seven when my mom brought that doctor home that day; long story cut short, they cut out my clitoris.
“Blood of Jesus!”, the woman’s friend shouted.
“It’s not the blood of Jesus o; these things happen.” I chipped in. As a health educator, I explained what Female Genital Mutilation was and how it affects women psychologically, physically, and emotionally. FGM ( female genital mutilation) is a partial or total removal of the external genitalia (clitoris) of girls and young women for non-medical reasons. It can also lead to an inability to urinate, severe infections, hemorrhaging, HIV, complications with childbirth, extreme pain during intercourse, and even death.
“Where was your father when all that was happening?” The lady sitting right next to me asked her
The owner replied that her dad was at home, and he didn’t say anything. She said the trauma constantly kept coming back, especially when she goes to the hospital or sees a doctor. “No one will ever touch my daughter’s or treat them in such a despicable manner so long as I am alive.” She added.
I asked her if she knew why she was mutilated. It happened that her mom told her it was for her good and it will help to control her libido to avoid infidelity in her when she eventually got married.
She added that it was a culture in their village that every girl child must be mutilated.
“Do you enjoy sex with your husband now?” I asked her.
No, I don’t, I do it for his sake, I don’t see the reason we bother to have sex except to bear children.” She responded regrettably.
I told them that FGM (female genital mutilation) is a harmful practice that oppresses women and controls women’s sexuality. Sex is meant to be enjoyed and should not be seen as torture or obligation.
The clitoris functions like a man’s penis and is the main pleasure center for females during sex. FGM (female genital mutilation) causes harm than good. Some get HIV in the process because of the unsterilized object that they use in cutting their clitoris. Some even bleed to death in the process. I also told them not to or allow anybody to do it to their children. Cutting off the female clitoris is a harmful practice that needs to stop not only in Nigeria but also in the whole world.
Lyla Hussein from Somalia is a psychotherapist in the UK who is an anti-FGM campaigner and a survivor who shares her personal experience to protect girls from this abusive practice. Lyla said that this cruel cut is much in Africa because it doesn’t affect the white how it affects blacks.
There should be a need for people, both governments, parents, youth, and children, to say no to FGM and help address FGM’s prevalence worldwide.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is not a religion or a culture but an abusive practice to a girl child.
WAYS INDIVIDUAL/COMMUNITIES CAN END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM).
- Challenge the discriminatory reasons FGM is practiced.
- Change traditions- with the support of older generations.
- Educate girls on their right to decide what happens to their bodies.
- Speak out about the risks and realities of FGM.
- Spread understanding that religion does not demand FGM.
- Tackle the secrecy that allows cutting to continue.
- Keep pushing for FGM to be banned.