Narratives

I’s Story

August 9, 2017

I was born in Khartoum in Sudan. I was cut when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

My Mum passed away before I was 7. I was looked after by my grandmother and Dad. My grandmother was kind. For her to fulfil her role, it was very important for me and my sister to have FGM. She thought “their Mum is gone now and there’s no one to look after them”. So she did some negotiations with my Dad and his family – my other grandmother and aunties from my father’s side.

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Y’s Story

March 17, 2017

I’m 18 years old and from the north-east part of Nigeria. FGM is not prevalent there and only a small percentage of people practice it. It’s more prevalent in the Osun state in the south.

I came to the UK when I was 15 to study for my GCSEs and now I’m doing A-levels in Oxford. I want to be a gynaecologist.

I was surprised to learn about FGM and surprised how my family and friends seem to know very little about it. I first heard about FGM a few years ago when they were trying to get it banned in Nigeria and it was all over social media in the UK.

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G’s Story

September 7, 2016

In early days during white man’s rule in Kenya, Christianity had taken root in the country where there were changes in families’ lives as opposed to the former way of life passed on from their ancestors. One of the changes was the circumcision of girls which had been the normal way of life for most tribes.

In some families though, who have embraced Christianity, leaving out the circumcision was not easy due to the stigma associated. The families that didn’t have their girls circumcised were stigmatised, isolated, looked down upon and even had abuses hurled at them, on the way. So some of those Christians preferred to have it done secretly even sending their girls away to relatives who could do it secretly for them. Born to a family that was not Christian, though Christianity had some effect on the family, me and my sisters were expected to undergo the ritual as it was a way of fitting in the society and fulfilling the ancestral command or directive.

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H’s Story

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.

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D’s Story

September 1, 2016

I’m 21 years old and was born in Somaliland. My mother and father are from Somaliland.

When I was 7 or 8 years old, my Mum asked me if I wanted FGM. She asked me three times. I said I was not sure and she gave me two months to think about it.

All my friends had FGM. We all wore the same shoes and the same clothes. I didn’t want to be different from the others. So I told my Mum I would give it a try and I had FGM when I was 9 years old.

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E’s Story

June 27, 2016

I am a Sudanese man. I think men need to be honest with women about FGM. Men and their wives need to decide together to stop FGM and this comes from awareness and raising children according to values and morals. I would remind other men that the Prophet said that if you want your daughter to be safe, you must be safe towards other women. Otherwise it will come back to you.

I was born in Sudan and I have lived in the Netherlands. FGM has affected my two sisters, my mother, my aunt and my grandmother. They call it “sunnah”. My mother was very worried but also happy that her daughter was grown and going to be cut – this gave her value in the community but my mother remembered her own FGM so was worried also.

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Survivors Kaddy and Fatou speaking up

June 16, 2016

Click here for video. (This film is from ‘Let’s Talk FGM’ a ground-breaking app developed and piloted by a health visitor from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to support health professionals discuss female genital mutilation (FGM) in Oxford. Let’s Talk FGM is the result of a Mary Seacole Award.)

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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.

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N’s story

I am from Gambia and from the Mandinka tribe. I am married to a Gambian man from the same tribe. We got married in Gambia and we had our first child there.

When I was 10 years old, my grandmum took 6 of us, me and my cousins, to circumcise us. It was a really bad day. It was really painful. It still disturbs us in terms of giving birth. It’s really difficult.

We were taken to a neighbour’s compound for circumcision. They lie you on the floor. They took a new razor blade. Someone will hold your legs and hands and you can’t do anything. They put the blade in your vagina and cut it. I was screaming. They will put their hands in your mouth so people won’t hear you crying. And I was bleeding.

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W’s Story

September 7, 2015

I have 4 sisters and 3 brothers and my family are from Khartoum in Sudan. I came to the UK 4 years ago. In Sudan they do FGM from age 4-7. I think things are changing in the capital.

My father was very educated. My grandfather wanted to make FGM for me – he thought it would protect me from sexual issues. All my friends had FGM and had a nice party.

When I was around 7 years old, I told my father I wanted FGM because I wanted a party and thought I would get money from my relatives. My father said to my Mum “never do that to W and her sisters”. Unfortunately my elder 2 sisters have had FGM because my father was out of Sudan at that time and my grandfather arranged it.

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R’s Story

August 22, 2015

I am from Gambia. Both my parents are from the Fula tribe.

My Grandmum decided I should have circumcision. I was 7 years old. After a month when you are healed they make a ceremony.

Circumcision is a traditional belief but it causes a lot of harm. It’s a problem when you’re giving birth. It causes a lot of problems.

I would not like my daughter to experience the same thing in life. It is too painful. It causes a lot of harm.

In our tradition if you are not cut it’s a shame for you and they call you all sorts of names. You feel disgrace.

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