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FGM Stories

HACEY / StopCut Project / FGM Stories

My Grandmother Deceived Me

I was not one of those girls who were circumcised at 8 days or while they were much younger. I was 21 years old, all grown up and educated to an extent. My sisters and I were meant to go through the process of circumcision, although at the time, my mother was not in support. She was quite educated and not receptive to the idea. But my father was just the opposite. He was a very traditional man who would not go against culture for any reason.

He reported my mother to my grandmother, and we all had to be taken back home for circumcision. I bluntly refused. I was the eldest child and I felt like it was my responsibility to speak for my siblings.

My grandmother brainwashed me, she called me into her room one night and told me stories of how men will not find me attractive, how that if I get married without being circumcised, I would be sent back because it carries a curse. She also said that without circumcision, if I managed to get pregnant, it would always be a stillbirth. I began to panic as I was already coming of age for marriage. My other aunties filled my head with different scary stories and so I gave in.

The minute the process began, I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I was in so much pain, I kept fighting and trying to get my hands free because they held my hands and legs. My grandmother championed the process. She cut me, my sisters and some other girls with the same blade.

It took a month for the pain to stop completely. Just when I thought that was the end, I began to notice some reactions around the place. I went to the hospital and I found out I had an infection. I treated this for so long even when I was asked by the doctor who examined me, I told her it is our tradition and there was nothing wrong with it. I wished I had known better.

It Still Happened

My mother was supposed to be the enlightened one. She was a teacher in Ilorin where we lived with my father and three of my siblings. Although I spent my childhood and most of my life in the South Western part of Nigeria, being a native of Nnewi in Anambra state, it was a family thing to travel to the village for the Christmas celebration every year.

As the youngest child of my parents and the only girl, I had never heard of such practice or that no girl child could escape it. I was 9 years of age and casually, we travelled to the village that December. I remember how my cousins and other relatives came visiting. Oh, I thought it was the usual Christmas visit and get-together. We ate, played around and went to bed. But somehow, it still felt like the other girls knew something I didn’t know…

Late into the night, I remembered waking up to find myself bundled and taken out from the midst of other children. I was frightened to death and I began to scream ‘Mummy! Mummy!!’. When they laid me on the mat in the room, I tried to look closely, I still remember how I slowly muttered ‘mummy’ with fresh tears welling up in my eyes as I saw my mother holding one of my legs open. The other people who held me down were my aunties – the ones I held in high regard.

It only dawned on me that there was trouble when I saw my father’s eldest sister (quite old at the time) stepped closer, sat right on top of me and put a little blade to my private part. She cut my clitoris like it was just a lifeless object and sew it together. It was the most painful experience I have ever had. My mother and other relatives kept telling me that this is the only way I would be able to give birth to children. Also, we were taught later on that girls who are not circumcised would have spirit husbands and become promiscuous.

After my circumcision, I was adorned so that everyone would know that I had just been circumcised. I could barely walk for a week because of the pain. Much later when I got married, penetration was very difficult which affected the sexual life of my husband and I.

I would later find out that a Type III FGM was practiced on me and that was the reason for the difficult penetration. During that time, my mother had come to an understanding of the health detriments of circumcision but I was still so upset because of the after effect and the pains it still caused me every now and then.

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