This is a story of a 26 year-old Kurdish woman that experienced female genital mutilation at a very young age.
“I remember distinctly, it was a Tuesday afternoon, my sister and I were playing in front of my uncles house; She was 5 and I was 7. An old lady approached us with my mother in tow; she was disliked by girls in the village but I was too young to understand why. She had a merciless face as she walked up behind my younger sister: “You two, come with me” she said to us. I looked up at my mother to see her approval: “Go with this grandma”. Too naive to envisage what was happening, my sister and I followed the old lady. However, my mother didn’t follow…
Suddenly, I felt anxious. Why isn’t mother coming with us, I wondered. Why did she leave us with this lady that nobody liked. “Grandma, where are we going?” I questioned. “Don’t speak so much” she snapped. We tagged along obediently, like little kids do.
We arrived in a small mud house which smelled of dirt and crushed leaves. In the corner of the room sat two other women whom I recognized from the village. They were what the locals described as “Doctors” even though they held no medical qualifications. Grandma walked up to the two ladies and rapidly whispered something in their ears, too quiet for me to make out what they were discussing.
The two ladies made their way to me and my sister each with a piece of black cloth in their hands. Fear settled over me. Where was my mother? One of the ladies grabbed my arms and blindfolded me. I kicked and pushed, but she had much more strength. I could hear my little sister also struggling. She was screaming and crying for help, but I couldn’t do anything to help her. I was helpless.
And then it happened. The cutting occurred really rapidly. To this day, I have never experienced a pain as intense as being mutilated. It’s the kind of pain I wouldn’t wish upon my enemy. They cut us without any use of anesthetics, as a result I passed out.
I would ask my mother: “Why did they cut me? How could you let them do that to me?” After a moment of silence, she would reply: “My daughter, I did it to protect you. Those who are not cut in our village are looked down upon. They are seen as impure. Unclean”.”
Story collected and told by Nigeen Akram from 28 Too Many
Watch this video to get to know another young woman's story: Meron.
Think about the harmful practices the women in these stories experienced. Are any of these practices common in your community too? Think about how we can stand against these harmful practices (start a campaign, sign a petition, make a speech…).