I have just been watching a BBC Breakfast news report on Female Genital Mutilation. It absolutely broke my heart.
The practice involves taking girls between the ages of just a few weeks, and five years, and “cutting” them. Depending on that particular place either the clitoris is severed, or the clitoris and inner labia, or in the most extreme cases the clitoris, inner labia and outer labia are all removed and the wound stitched up leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to escape from. This wound is then opened up after marriage for sex and childbirth. A raw, open wound.
What is perhaps most shocking is that in these communities these “cutters” are women. They hold down their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and they take razor blades and knives to those little girl’s vaginas. I have just changed Miss Rose’s nappy and cried. I looked at her tiny, innocent naked body and thought of those children and what their mothers allow to happen or even do themselves.
In an interview a woman seeking asylum in Britain spoke of watching her little girl held down by her grandmother and cut, whilst she cried out for her mother and screamed in pain. After that she took her daughter and ran, as she was supposed to be a cutter and refused. If she returns home and refuses to cut she will be violently punished and her children attacked. She has been refused asylum.
An interview with a leading Imam had me reeling. He stated that the cutting is encouraged in Islam because its “best for women”. Why? Because the bits that are removed are so itchy that women have to scratch them with wire scouring pads, and in women left in tact they are plagued by a constant watery discharge that soaks through their clothes. If this man didn’t wield power over the lives of innocent children then this lack of understanding of basic biology would be laughable. In fact it is tragic and horrifying.
The cutting of women in African communities dates back before Islam, before Christianity, so to blame it on religion strikes me as a cop-out. This is merely another way men have found to control and dominate women. Cut us, leave us wounded, weak. Stop us getting pleasure from sex. Sex is purely for men, and women’s bodies are their tools. It’s disgusting, antiquated, and makes me feel sick that its practiced today. It is not Islam, and I’m certain most Muslims would be disgusted by that claim. It’s men.
It’s terrifying the number girls sent to The Gambia from Britain to have this mutilation done. It’s not a far away, distant thing. It happens to the girls around us, girls born and raised in our country where such practices are seen as abhorrent, yet they are not saved from it. It’s happening to our sisters. Women and girls everywhere are living with this hideous abuse of their bodies.
One day, when I am able, I am going to put time and money into campaigning against this disgusting act and raising awareness. Saving future children from this horrific act, and trying to stop the victims of this cruelty from becoming perpetrators of it onto yet more innocent girls.
Be aware it is going on, fight it when you can. Fight it for those girls.
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