Narratives

L’s Story

August 14, 2015

I am from Gambia. Both my parents and my husband are from the Fulani tribe.

I can’t remember exactly what age I was when the procedure was done to me. I was 5 or 6.

I remember my Mum taking me back to her village with her sister – we lived in the city. They took me to her mother’s (my grandmother’s) house.

Then my grandmother and aunties took me to the place in the village where it was done. My mother didn’t attend. They took me to a very old lady. I was not aware where we were going. When we got there they took me to a room like a bathroom behind her house.

They took off my clothes and lay me down. They covered my eyes. I remember screaming “what are you doing? What are you doing?” and before I realised it was already done.

After that I was taken back to my grandmother’s house until I was better. I stayed in her house with my Mum for about a month.

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T’s Story

August 4, 2015

I grew up in the Gambia and I didn’t know I had been through circumcision. I was between 3 and 6 months old. By the time I was 7 or 8, I told my Mum I wanted to go through it as all the kids were having it and they got gifts and parties. Then my Mum told me that I’d had it already.

Men are not involved in circumcision and most of the time it’s not the mothers but aunties. My Dad’s sister organised my circumcision. In Gambia you have like a “big sister” who takes responsibility for your circumcision and you go to for advice. She will take pride in arranging the circumcision. It’s like boosting the family – they want to show that they care so much for the child they want to show the whole world.

They don’t announce the circumcision. Relatives steal girls and circumcise them. They teach morals during the circumcision period – how to be a woman, about pregnancy, how to treat elders, not to look elders in the eye and how to be a good wife.

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B’s Story

April 17, 2015

I am from Gambia, from the Serahule or Soninki tribe. I was in America when I went for a holiday with my Mum. My Mum left me with my Nan. My Nan decided to kind of steal me and take me to the circumcise place. I was circumcised by an old lady. I was 7.

It was very, very painful. You can’t wee, it hurts so much. I had no painkillers and had to struggle through until I got better. My Mum and I didn’t go back to America as my parents were worried about getting into trouble. My Dad was in America and I stayed with my Mum in Gambia until I got married.

Now they do circumcision when girls are babies because they don’t know how to scratch themselves. They do it at 3 days now.My two sisters were circumcised at 3-4 days’ old. My Mum didn’t want us cut and she argued for my sisters but they stole the babies from her. They don’t listen.
It’s like there is a “human police”. People steal children and cut them.

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S’s Story

April 1, 2015

I was born in the Gambia and I think I had my FGM when I was about 5 or 6. I came to the UK in 2006.

Before I got married I would argue for FGM because it is what I know. I grew up with not having anything down there.

When I got married it took me a week to do anything with my husband as I was blocked, type 3.

My grandmother said I had to go to the doctors. I was confused. My husband called my Mum and she too said I would have to go to the doctors.

The GPs had no clue and couldn’t see anything. They didn’t know what to unblock and how to reverse my FGM. I was advised to buy a lubricant, it took a few more days and sex was so, so painful.

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P’s story

P is originally from the Sudan. She moved to the UK in December 1990. She was cut herself. This narrative is a record of her thoughts on the practice of FGM.

Cutting is a nasty experience, you never get over it.

Extended family and the people we know are educated now, and know the harms.

My daughter was 6 years old in 1968, it was clear then that educated people did not want their children cut. Our family stopped cutting at this time.

All round the city you can find people cut in three different ways, sometimes they take it all away and sometimes they use stitches. But it causes harm

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K’s Story

March 3, 2015

I was born in Gunjur in the Gambia. I was cut when I was less than a year old. I was brought up by my auntie.

I went to High School and at this time I started working as a volunteer for Amnesty International. For 10 years I helped with campaigns and workshops about violence against women and FGM. I got lots of insults about me and my parents while I was doing this work.

I am married to a Gambian man from the town where I was brought up and we have children together. We came to the UK about 10 years ago.

In the Gambia, FGM is seen as a matter of “must”. Girls that do not have FGM will be mocked with people telling them that they are “isolema”, meaning “uncastrated” or “uncut” which is seen as an insult. I

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