In recent months, the arrest of UK based Doctor’s carrying out FGM procedures has brought back into the forefront the untold stories of thousands of young girls and women often forced to go through with this life threatening and sometimes fatal operations.
21 year old *Moona spoke to us about the issue that has ravaged the livelihood of many young girls she knows, describing her first encounter with the practice as “a secret that was kept from us until one day it just came out in the open.” On a trip that she thought would be a holiday back to her country of birth; Somalia, Moona encountered the religious doctor’s who carry out the procedure on young women like herself – saying she had felt “there was no escape” from what seemed to be her fate.
“It was me and two of my cousins …we were staying with my auntie and everything was so normal until that day,” Moona reflects back on the way she had felt betrayed by those closest to her. “We were dropped off at a family friend’s house and basically told we were immoral and dirty because we had not had it done to us yet…then we were told to change in one of the room’s and come back but I felt so sick I couldn’t even walk straight.”
This is no surprise for those who are aware of the general requirements for those inflicting FGM upon others. The procedure is usually carried out on babies and young girls but women also if they have not had it done prior to their development. It is a practice said to prepare young girls for their appeal as future wives and there are also religious elements to this. However in contrast to male circumcision which is thought by many religions to keep a boy clean – there is no such reason for FGM – it is simply to make sure that females do not derive any pleasure from clitoral stimulation and also to ensure that their husbands have enhanced pleasure.
“I just felt so, so ashamed and stripped. That’s probably the best way to put it into words. I was young but I knew that what was taken from me wasn’t anyone else’s to take …and I just remember being in Food Technology on my first day back a month after term had started and having to answer these questions about where I’d been. It was impossible to even think about telling someone the truth. I just kept thinking maybe I don’t understand the good in this but there was no good.”
Moona’s story is just one of millions. Every day thousands of girls continue to live in silence, feeling there is no way to turn.