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M’s story

November 17, 2015

They did my circumcision when I was 3 months old.

In Gambia there are lots of different tribes and they take the girls for circumcision at different ages. In our tribe you have to do it by 3 months. That time I didn’t experience anything as I was very young. My grandmum arranged my circumcision.

I got married in Gambia when I was 18 years old. My husband is Gambian.

When I got married, I couldn’t have sex because there would have been nowhere to go and they had to increase my womanhood.

My mum arranged a woman to increase my womanhood before my wedding night. They didn’t tell me first. They called me to my auntie’s and I saw an old woman. Then they came and held my legs and hands and took a razor blade to me to increase my womanhood. Sometimes they use knives to do this. I was shouting and crying as it was painful. Then they put salt in my womanhood and put me in warm water.

At that time I was very angry with them and hated my mum but my mum had no choice. She needed to do it so I could have sex with my husband and have a baby. If I wasn’t circumcised I would have been called names.

The same night I had to have sex with my husband. I had no choice because if I didn’t I would become very tight again. I had to have sex with pain.

My husband felt he couldn’t do anything. Circumcision is our tradition though he doesn’t like it. He had no choice but to have sex with me with that blood – otherwise they would have taken a blade to me again.

The pain lasted 2-3 weeks and I took painkillers all the time. Sometimes my husband would have to force me to have sex as I wasn’t in the mood. After 2 months I was ok.

When I was pregnant I was told I had to go to the JR and that I had to have an operation before I had my baby as I was too small. I had an operation when I was 5 months pregnant. They also had to increase downwards the day I had my baby. It was a horrible pain and I don’t even want to remember it.

It’s not good they do circumcision in our country. It means you don’t want to have sex with any man as you have a lot of pain in your body.

Before I got married I was very small and when I went to the toilet urine came in small, small drops, it couldn’t come fast and I had to spend a long time in the toilet.

They did circumcision and something to make me very tight. If any man has sex with you they won’t have anywhere to go. He might wound you but he can’t get in.

They want you to remain a virgin until you are married. If you get married and you’re not a virgin then you will be nobody to them. Your husband and the people will think of you like a prostitute.

In our culture, if you are not circumcised this means you are not a woman. They will call you names. You are a nobody.

Even now sex is still painful and sometimes I will be shouting. It’s easier since my operation – before the operation I would see blood.

The majority do circumcision in my village and people wouldn’t let me not do it if I had daughters. I wouldn’t let them do it to my kids and experience what I have. I wouldn’t let my daughter go to Gambia alone until she was grown up. They can’t force her when she’s grown up. It’s changing in Gambia now – some people don’t do it. I think people living in Europe and America don’t do it.

If someone was thinking to do it, I would ask them to think about what I have been through.

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