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Female genital mutilation (FGM) real story

This real story comes from a 14 year old girl living in the UK. With thanks to Integrate Bristol.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) also known as cutting or female circumcision is a procedure carried out on girls and young women which involves removing some or all of the external genitals.

TRIGGER WARNING

Please be aware that this story contains a detailed account of what FGM involves, which some readers may find distressing. Please also be aware that this is one girl’s story. FGM happens in many different ways and may not reflective of all experiences.

If you have questions or are worried about being cut yourself, call the NSPCC’s FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

I was six years old when it happened to me

I was six years old when it happened to me. I knew what was going to happen, I knew they were going to cut me because a lot of my friends had had it done and I’d had a look – it was quite normal for girls to have a look at each other. My friends had told me that it was really painful, that it was horrible, so I was terrified. It happened when my mother was away and relatives were looking after me and my sister.

In the morning, when I was at school, they told me it was ‘my time’. My uncle and aunt came to take me from the school. It was my sister’s time too – she was eight years old. The woman who cut us was my grandmother’s sister – and she was going to cut us in a tent near a huge tree. They used ropes to tie our legs apart and there were lots and lots of girls there. I could hear screaming, lots of horrible screaming and there was so much blood. Girls were crying.

My sister went first, they cut her then they took her somewhere. I heard she fainted. My grandmother’s sister was cutting so many girls and when my sister had been done, she told her to stand just outside, and the blood was running down her legs, then she fainted. My grandmother was screaming at her sister – asking her how she could do this to her grandchildren. She was terrified that my sister would die. But my great aunt insisted, and they said it was my turn. I ran away – I ran as fast as I could but they sent boys after me and they caught me. They took me legs and my arms and carried me back. One of them was my older brother – he helped carry me back to the cutter.

They tied me down, I was fighting as hard as I could, but they were stronger. I was screaming. The old woman, my great aunt, used a razor blade – it was clean and new, but there was no anaesthetic when she cut me. I have no memory at all of her cutting me – it’s blank. But then another woman came, she was from a different city, and she gave me an injection before they stitched me up. They tied my legs together the whole way down so I couldn’t open my legs, I was like that for three or four weeks.

I remember my grandmother taking me home and telling me I had to pee, I was terrified. Because my legs were tied I couldn’t sit to pee, so I leaned over on one side and the pain was unbearable. I jumped, and some of the stitches opened. My neighbour, she was in her 30s, said I would have to be sewn up again but my grandmother refused.

When I came to England and I started having periods, the problems started. I had to go to the doctor and they opened me, so everything is much better, but there are still some problems. Lots of people from my community believe that if you are ‘open’ [haven’t undergone FGM], no man will want to marry you, and they keep telling me that. But I don’t believe that – and in any case, if a man doesn’t want me because I am open, the way Allah made me, then he can go away!

I don’t believe that – and in any case, if a man doesn’t want me because I am open, the way Allah made me, then he can go away!”

This may sound strange, but I’m not angry about what happened to me. There’s no point, I don’t want to spend my life feeling anger and hate. I want to be at peace.

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