image Female Genital Mutilation- A Woman From Somalia Speaks Up

IMG-whyfomo-circumcision-sign(via Wikipedia.org)

Najma’s Story: After moving to England from Somalia, Najma (whose real name is not being used) thought that all girls “got cut.” It wasn’t until asking a friend in Britain about FGM (female genital mutilation), and getting a “blank stare,” that she realized that now suddenly she was “different” for having had the procedure. She explains that, at the time, she was 11 yo and wanted the procedure done so that she could be like all the other girls; to fit in. In Somalia, there is a ton of pressure on young girls, coming of age, to undergo this mutilation. The community shames the family of uncircumcised girls. It’s a very strong tradition in her culture. In Najma’s case, her mom (having had the procedure done herself) actually warned her against the barbaric surgery.

Najma describes the horror, “I was taken to the room that I shared with my mum, and asked to lie down, my face towards the sky. I was held by three women, one holding the upper part of my body, and two pulling my legs apart. (Mother left the room because it was too horrific to watch) I remember feeling cold hands tagging at my genitalia, pulling and parting, readying the skin for the blade. Warm blood ran down my lower body as the lady separated the clitoris from the rest of my body, without using any anesthetics. All I could feel was the blade tearing through my flesh, the back and forth movement like a saw on a piece of wood, but not the pain – my body had gone numb. I started screaming, thinking I was going to die.” (huffingtonpost.com) Najma’s legs were then tied together in hopes of helping her body heal quicker.

diagram
“Classification of female genital mutilation”, World Health Organization, 2014 (via Wikimedia.org)

Isn’t This Illegal? FGM is a criminal offense (child abuse) in the UK and families who believe in the practice will travel abroad to countries like Somalia, where the procedure is performed without anesthesia and under unclean conditions.

How Common is Female Circumcision? According to NHS Choices, “60,000 women in the UK are thought to be living with the effects of FGM, while internationally, it’s estimated that over 100 million women have undergone some form of the abuse.” It’s difficult to say exactly how many since FGM is severely under-reported due to the hidden nature of the crime.

IMG-whyfomo-map-fgm(via Wikimedia.org)

Why Would A Young Girl Choose To Do This To Herself? Societal pressure to fit-in (FOMO). Tradition and Coming of Age: their Mothers and Grandmothers had it done. Girls seem to be quieter after being cut, which is mistaken for a sign of maturity. Girls are told that being cut makes women cleaner, curbs their sexuality, and is basically a right of Womanhood. Najma says, “You are typically an embarrassment to your family if you don’t follow this blind tradition.”

What Is Being Done To Spread Awareness? Najma, now 20 yo, is speaking out. “At the time (age 11), I didn’t understand the lifelong consequences of the procedure, which is defined as intentionally altering or causing injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Najma is working with Fixers to educate young girls who may not understand, or have never even heard of, the risks associated with FGM. Najma encourages girls to speak openly about it and share their stories. She says that eventually this out-dated, barbaric practice, “will come to an end.”

IMG-whyfomo-samalians-fgm(via globalhealthstudents.blogs.ku.dk)

Watch The Video on THIS STORY From The Fixers Campaign:

HEAR Najma SPEAK OUT About FGM In This Video From Fixers:

Fixers are young people using their past to fix the future. Join Fixers in their efforts against FGM and other global and local issues. You can read more articles like this one at WhyFOMO.com  WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK! Let us know what you’d like to hear about next in the comments below!

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