P’s story

April 1, 2015

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.

Cutting is meant to stop girls having sex early in their lives. Some old ladies say Eastern men like it.

After our decision not to cut, cousins on the father’s side were cut. They were all cut despite being educated. When the cutting was done, there was a big celebration.

My mother-in-law wanted my children cut like their cousins, but we refused.

Educated people and doctors in Sudan tell people not to cut, then go off and get their daughters cut in secret, it’s such a personal thing.

My sister-in-law thought we didn’t want the children cut because of economic reasons, that we couldn’t afford it. She offered for my children to lay next to hers whilst they rested and recovered from the cutting.

After cutting people come visiting and congratulating. It’s a real event.

My sister-in-law was disappointed, we didn’t have them cut. She tried to convince me to have it done, but failed.

She then tried to persuade other family members. Some family members were cut and others were not.

P suggested three arguments which a family could use against cutting

  1. People think cutting is about religion. In Islam, cutting is not mentioned there. It’s from the time of the Pharoahs in Egypt.
  2. You must think about the health of the girl. They can catch infections and die.
  3. It’s also the psychological impact, being exposed to cruel things, and never getting over it.

It does not work as an argument about stopping girls having sex.

In Sudan in the 1980`s, so many organisations were talking about cutting. They aimed to raise standards of families in remote areas. The law was good. Cutting is against the law. The midwife and parents would go to court if they did cutting.

From my point of view, the things that make a difference are awareness-raising, education, and standard of knowledge has more effect than the law.

Ahfad University for women in Sudan did a lot of work socially. It sent people to talk to people in remote areas – this has greatly affected the outcomes.

The thing that makes the difference is raising standards.

 

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