I was recently talking to a group of girlfriends about Culture and the topic on FGM came up. So most of them seemed surprised that it is something that is still being practiced. It then occurred to me that it doesn’t only happen to children below the age of 18.And if you think that it’s only practiced in rural areas then you are wrong. Just like my girlfriends, I will tell you how FGM is still a problem affecting our nation today and not only does it affect young girls recently there have been cases of the practice being done on women as old as 30 years and above. Yes, you read correctly. FGM is being practiced on women as old as 30 years. This are the women whose dignity and voice has been taken away by those people who are ignorant of the dangers of FGM and are culture fanatics who have refused to stop this act and still believe that a woman’s place is with her husband and in the Kitchen.
Recently I encountered two women, Chebet who is 35 years old and Shiro who is 25 years old (not their real names) in Nakuru. Both are victims of this cynical act, FGM.
Chebet has been married to her husband for 15 years. She was always submissive and even though he would beat her, Chebet had never left him. They were both blessed with three children, the eldest being 7 years old. One day as Chebet was working in her garden, 3 women ambushed her and told her that they had been sent by her husband. Two of those women forced Chebet inside the house. They laid her on the floor and tied her hands and feet. They told her that her husband had warned them that she would put up a fight and it’s why they had to be rough. They covered her mouth so that she does not to scream. One of the women then laid out razor blades and other sharp cutting objects that are used to ‘cut out’ and some herbs that they had carried to help with pain. The other woman kept telling Chebet that it was an honor and that her husband wanted her to be a ‘real woman’. All Chebet could remember before she was brought to hospital was the writhing pain she felt before she lost consciousness.
Shiro on the other hand had been married to her husband for 4 years. Unlike Chebet, Shiro’s husband was present as she was undergoing the painful cut. Her husband and mother in law, had been telling her to undergo the process and though she always said no, her husband forced her to. He one day came home with ‘experts’ and told Shiro that she had to undergo the cut as it was customary and it would make her a woman. At first Shiro wanted to run away but her husband threatened to leave Shiro. Shiro felt she had no choice and let her husband’s wish be granted.
Both Chebet and Shiro were bought to hospital as they both were in agonizing pain and bleeding .They both admitted that their husbands were behind this vicious act and that their in laws had prior knowledge about it and helped organize it behind their backs.
How often have you heard about FGM happening to married women as old as 30 years? This two cases are among the many cases of FGM that are happening out there to females of different age, culture and tribe. So one would wonder, what are the effects of FGM on an older woman? Below are some of the effects of FGM.
- Profuse bleeding. The process of FGM is consequently followed with a lot of blood loss and this renders victims’ blood deficient and weak.
- Psychological Trauma. FGM is such an inhumane practice. It is a form of violence that unjustly takes women’s dignity and violates their rights. Chebet was ambushed and when she was brought to hospital all she could remember was the pain she felt before she blacked out.
- Severe Pain.
- Infection. This because the tools being used may not have been sterilized.
- Leads to Complications during Child birth. This though is a long term effect.
FGM is injustice done to women and children who are forced into the process. We shouldn’t be quiet about this ordeal. It is our duty to speak up and protect women and children against FGM. It is time to break the silence on Gender Based Violence.