No Apologies; Guide My Space
“There’s nothing more fulfilling than to share the story of my friend on this International Day of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in honor ”. I hope that my story inspires us to take bold and definite stand to #EndFGM.
Victoria is a new mother who has just been delivered of a healthy baby girl. Instead of relishing in the joy of motherhood, she was sad and so scared. All she felt was despair and hopelessness as she cradle her new born.
Her ordeals while in labour was beyond a hell experience and the reason for her fear was that her body might not return its normal state. She was unmarried, and fell pregnant as a teenager. Her grandparents whom she lives with after the demise of her biological parents blamed it on her not being cut as a child. However, she was forced to marry her baby daddy.
As part of the traditional marriage rite in her community, Victoria was asked to go through circumcision which is same thing as female genital mutilation (FGM) in her five (5) month of pregnancy so as to prevent miscarriage. A myth her community including her grandma held so strong to.
Five months later I visited my friend at her grandma to check in with her. That same cool evening, just when the sun was setting five women came into the compound, they were received by her grandma into her room. I saw four women pounced on my friend, held her down, two holding her hands and another two on my legs and one of the oldest woman did the cutting while grandma looked on with excitement throwing in words of encouragement to the women and a few “NDO” (in our dialect “sorry”). I could not do anything, I couldn’t help my friend. It was such an experience that has haunted me and will definitely stay with me for a while.
When the cutters were done with their deeds, my friend was left to herself and the door was finally opened and I came in to help her with cleaning. When I returned to my place, she endure severe pain, unbearable over two weeks with no proper medication as her grandma insisted on traditional medicine. My friend could only speak with me on the phone occasionally to tell about her pains. As young person with vague knowledge on FGM, consequences and how she could get support, I was less of help to her.
My friend Victoria had obstructed labor with the baby not coming through when she was due to deliver her baby. It was discovered that her cervix was affected as a result of FGM which led to her having visco Vigna Fistula (VVF). Now my friend has lost control of her body and its response to nature’s call.
In her words, “I feel like I am practically leaking as I cannot tell when I want to urinate, It just leaves my body before I can do anything; before I get up as soon as I feel the need; it just rushes out and I cannot stop it; I do not know what is wrong with me, I cannot control my body anymore and I see the look on the faces of those who comes to see my baby and I”.
Female Genital Mutilation is the total or partial removal of the female genitalia for no medical reason. Eliminating this unmedical practice is very important to the attainment of the national and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It will contribute to the quality of health and promote gender equality, reduce infant mortality, improve maternal health and control HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
The practice of FGM violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments and right to life. We must all join hands together to ensure zero tolerance to FGM, to #EndFGM in our generation.
Rosemary Isaac, KTI Program Officer (Youth & Community)