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. They don’t charge money, they just want it done. I think my Nan would have given the circumciser some sweetcorn or clothes. My Nan doesn’t feel guilty or sorry, she thinks she was helping me. It’s a cultural thing. I still love my Nan but my feelings are upside down for her.

It was very painful when I started my period and having a baby was the worst type of pain in my life.

My husband is Gambian, he is my cousin. He was married to a white lady before who was not circumcised so he knows the difference. I am completely dry when we have sex. He never liked FGM and tells people not to do it.

I know someone who has been married 10 years and doesn’t get any feeling because she has been cut completely. For me, they didn’t cut everything and I get some feeling for my man but it takes a long time to get any feeling. I do not like sex. Some circumcisions leave the blood to dry and you have to be opened when you get married.

It is like I am not a human being. I do not enjoy anything. FGM is like killing a person in life as a woman doesn’t get any feeling.

It was hard for me when I was having a baby. My Mum was upset as she didn’t agree to the circumcision.

It’s a cultural thing. They say it is to protect them from being with a man all the time. I didn’t know about the man until I was married. They don’t talk about sex and I didn’t think about it before. We are not allowed to have a boyfriend. I know people who have never been circumcised and never need a man. They are ok to be alone. Back home women still have affairs even if they have had FGM. I don’t think it makes any difference whether you are cut or not.

I think there is no romance in sex in our culture. When I talk to my friends who have been circumcised they laugh when I say you should do massage before sex. Sex for them is 5-10 minutes. There’s no enjoyment in life there and sex is to have lots of kids.

They also think that the lips down there will grow and get dirty and stink and that it will be too hard to operate when women are older. Some people say it’s a Muslim thing, to be clean. I don’t think it’s in the Qur’an. It’s a traditional thing.

I’m not worried about going to Gambia because I know what they do. I wouldn’t leave my girls alone. The old ladies are the worst ones.

If someone was thinking about circumcising their girls, I would tell them don’t do it. Consider the pain. I think someone doing it is a killer. They are destroying a person’s life.

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