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.
Every day they boiled water with herbs to wash me. I never looked forward to washing in the morning. It was very painful and I cried every day.
When we got back to the city my Mum was excited, telling people “she’s now a full girl”. She organised a party and bought me nice clothes.
When I was a teenager I didn’t have my period until I was about 17. I don’t know why.
I came to this country in 2005 to join my husband. I didn’t get pregnant for about a year. I also had a very long labour with my daughter and I struggled with her and had a tear and stitches.
My uncle’s wife had circumcision and they closed the hole and she didn’t get pregnant for 7 years. They were wondering if it was spiritual but I believe it was because she was a victim of this thing (FGM).
I don’t think the elderly back home are aware of the repercussions – if they knew I don’t think they would do it.
When I had my daughter my Mum said “when are you bringing her to be circumcised?”. She started talking about it when my daughter was 1. She said this is our culture and it has to be done. I told her that it is not allowed in this country and we were not getting it done. Then my Mum said she would take her when I visit and get it done. I had to insist that it’s against the law in the UK and if it is done I will go to jail. I said I wouldn’t go to Gambia if she did it. Then my Mum had to back off.
My Mum is not happy and still wants to discuss it but she didn’t say she will take my daughter by force. My Mum thinks that my daughter’s clitoris will grow and look like a penis. I told her I didn’t care. My husband argued with my Mum also. He is 100% against FGM and he told my Mum that our daughter will never go through it. I also had to argue with some of my mother’s younger sisters – they were not happy but my daughter is my child.
Circumcision is against the law and not in the Holy Qu’ran. In Gambia we were told that it is against our religion not to have it. It wasn’t until we came to Europe we found out that it is not in the Holy Qu’ran.
So many people are suffering from this. They don’t enjoy their marriage and don’t enjoy having relations with their husbands because of circumcision.
I think it will be helpful to spread the word to elderly people back home. Two of my sisters (one is 8 now) were circumcised 2 years ago. My generation has no power and if I was living in Gambia my daughter would have gone through this. Many of the elderly people are not educated and think that if you are a woman and don’t go through circumcision then you are not a proper woman.