H’s Story

September 7, 2016

I am a grandmother. I was born in Kenya and came to the UK in 2001.

FGM was talked about when I was in school – it was like a peer pressure. It was being done openly and we knew who had done it that particular school holiday. If you looked older and had not done it, you became a social reject and there was back-biting. There is a name “kirigu” which means “uncircumcised girl” and is a big insult. So you want to do it so you no longer have that name. The boys at our school thought you were a grown-up girl once you were circumcised.

Before my circumcision I was living with my grandmother who never mentioned it, though girls in the community were being done and there were big celebrations. There was no secret then. And no thought of sterility or cleanliness.

I was pressurised to have FGM by my sister who was much older, already a mother then. She thought I would never get married if I didn’t do it. I wished to get married, so I agreed.

I was about 13 when I had FGM. My mother and sister arranged my circumcision. My mother was too reserved but she took part in preparing me. My parents had just become Christians so there was no party and it was just done quietly because of social pressure. I don’t know if my father was told and I never spoke to my mother about it.

I was cut by an older lady, that was her job, she is not alive now. I’ve not talked about this until this year when I was asked to take part in a project. I didn’t see the need and I didn’t know it was still happening.

FGM brings a lot of problems, first in sex and then during delivery. You need a man to penetrate where there is a scar and it’s very painful. Women with FGM always tear during delivery.

My husband-to-be had been to my family and I knew he would marry me so I allowed him to have sex with me. FGM had caused scarring and he had to force me. This weakened his muscles so we had to go to a doctor. If you happened to get married without FGM you would be circumcised during labour.

FGM removes the sex organ – it is supposed to stimulate you. Men look to touch you so that you enjoy.
It’s possible that people thought girls wouldn’t have sex before marriage because the sex organ is already removed. I don’t think FGM stops girls from having sex – it opens them to having sex, and maybe indiscriminate sex, because you are likeable and want every man to know you’ve had it removed.

There was no pressure on me to have my daughter cut. When we became Christians most people stopped circumcising girls as it is not biblical, only male circumcision is biblical. Although there are some communities who didn’t do male circumcision before, but do it now, due to the fear of HIV.

I was a midwife by profession in Kenya and delivered babies for 13 years. Most women had been circumcised. I didn’t discuss circumcision with them as it was normal and I didn’t relate the tears to the circumcision at that time.

FGM is unnecessary. If you have sex, you won’t enjoy the sex. If you get pregnant, you are preparing for the worst pain as there are tears in delivery. You are left with an unnecessary scar to carry.

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