This true story was originally published by the AHA Foundation in August 2017. The author and survivor chooses to remain anonymous, and we honor her decision.
It is the recovery room in a hospital in Egypt. The girl is six or seven years old. She comes slowly to consciousness from the anesthetic and feels an unbearable, indescribable pain. Her mother is happy and so are all who surround her and do not feel her pain. Her sister is on the other bed and does not utter a word.
Still the girl does not understand what is going on or what happened to her….
Yes, I could not understand or comprehend. Only pain was there, speaking loudly to my body.
The mother and grandmother are from the countryside but live in Cairo and still follow the tribal traditions. The father is simple and from Upper Egypt and supports the mother and grandmother’s idea….
The child keeps on bleeding for a while, but is afraid to speak. She touches her bed underneath to find blood. She starts to faint. It is 1 or 2 am, the girl calls her mother telling her that she is bleeding. The mother sees the blood and screams “Help, help: my girl is dying!”
The girl is bleeding and crying out from her heart; she does not understand what is going on, why she is here in the hospital and why she is bleeding? The mother is terrified and the nurses cannot do anything.
One of the nurses says that the child is bleeding and the stitches are disconnected. They begin to inject her to stop the bleeding, but in vain.
“Still the girl does not understand what is going on or what happened to her….”
The doctor finally comes from her home and says the girl has thin blood, liquidity which has caused severe bleeding. She should undergo another operation.
But the girl is skinny and has just undergone an operation and the physician decides they cannot do another operation with anesthetic for a second time.
But another operation to stop the bleeding must be done and will cause more pain while the girl has not recovered yet from the first operation.
So, the doctor decides to operate without anesthetic!!
She is dragged to the operation room, as she was dragged before to the taxi. Four nurses are there pinning down the girl’s legs and arms for the operation. They know she will resist because of the pain. It is without anesthetic, without mercy.
The girl feels absolutely everything, every painful action incursion into her body. She calls for her dad, brother, mom…because of the severe pain, she cries out and decides to hate her mother and her life.
“The girl feels absolutely everything, every painful action incursion into her body.”
It is a punishment which she still suffers even now. The everlasting fear is now her friend. She was not dead after she underwent FGM. She did not die when she was bleeding, but her spirit is dead, as is her relationship with her mother.
That girl is now 32 years old. She is writing this story while studying for her Masters in Human Rights in a foreign country that respects her rights as a woman.
The girl is frightened about all things female, and she fears marriage too, in preparation for which her mother insisted a second operation must be done before the wedding. This time the girl resisted and refused, just as she still resists, protecting her third sister from criminal cutting.
The girl, now woman, is successful in her social relations and chose to work in human rights, especially women’s rights, in order to prevent this severe crime. She is still frightened by marriage and by everything around her, but she laughs and helps all who need her help and aid. She had no choice undergoing this severe crime, but she decided to have a choice to live what remains of her life without fear. That is why she speaks now.
“Have mercy on your girls.”
I still feel severe physical pain which repeats with my period every month to remind me how I was violated. My soul is tired too. We are obliged to live in an ignorant merciless society which sees and treats girls as if they were shameful, disregarding however much they are respectful, educated, or religious.
Girls are still buried alive by practices like FGM, harassment, and obliged marriage; but I do not think that cutting intimate parts will protect a girl from sexual deviation or prevent ‘promiscuity.’
“Have mercy on your girls.”
The practice after FGM was to use hot water and antiseptic for a week to urinate naturally, trying to ease the severe pain. It took a longer time for me because I needed more care. I am now 32 years old and terrified to have a relationship with a man.
Pain, blood, near-death status, brutality, ignorance, violation, discrimination, unfairness, victim…these are parts of my daily psychological dictionary.
Why I have been born as a female?
Why did my ‘mom’ do this to me?
Why there was no law in my country to protect me against this crime?
Why did my father allow that crime?
Why did the hospital and the doctor agree to commit that crime?
Where are my so-called human rights?
These again are parts of my daily conversations!
These, without exaggeration, are the memories which accompany the crime, and still there are other memories that cannot be described or put in words. I still cannot forgive my mother for the physical and psychological pain I still feel even today.
To every mother I say – your daughter is a beautiful spirit and you can teach her how to protect herself by bringing her up lovingly and making her love herself as a female, born a complete human, not as a human who needs to be made ‘perfect’ by cutting into her body.
“To every mother I say – your daughter is a beautiful spirit and you can teach her how to protect herself by bringing her up lovingly and making her love herself.”
For me, the physical and moral wounds continue. My mother does not know that I am studying in another country.
Please pray that my pain and every circumcised girl’s pain will lessen. I hope that parents everywhere will have mercy on their girls and protect them from that permanent torture, the criminal act of female genital mutilation.
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