My name is Nasro. I am 19 years old.

Dadaab is place of renowned for practicing female genital mutilation and as a girl who grew up here, I was not an exception. I can’t blame my family for making me go through this inhuman act, as the society dictates it. In May culture it was considered unclean for a girl not to go through the practice. The reason why I am sharing my story with you is the girls who faced female genital mutilation like me, still believe in life and a brighter future. It doesn’t matter what happened or how your past has been, you can still have a future if you stand up and let your voice be heard. Talk about how you feel and also protect the young girls who may be facing the wrath of the knife as you and I did. Allow me to take you through my personal experience of female genital mutilation as I am a survivor of a clitoridectomy. My community practices FGM type one which is partial or total removal of the clitoris, because they believe that  the clitoris is unclean as it makes one sexually active.  I strongly oppose this and believe that refraining from sexual relation before marriage is all about ones attitude and values and it does not have anything to do with the removal of the clitoris. I remember 7 year ago

as if it was yesterday. The scar still remains fresh in me. I really didn’t want to go through FGM, but because in my blocks all the girls of my age set had gone through it. I didn’t have any option but to follow the community traditions and it’s the community that dictates, not you. It was on Monday morning when all this happened to me. It was 5 in the morning when I heard some women talking outside our house. i didn’t know that they had come for me, to create a scar of a lifetime. Innocently like a sheep to be taken to a slaughter house, one woman came and told me that I should wake up as it was my day to become a woman. I didn’t  believe my ears but because she insisted, I woke up.
I felt some kind of fear and felt like my whole body had frozen. She took me outside where women were singing songs and ululating. By the time, my mother was nowhere to be seen, at least to see me in the state I was in and to help me. All I wanted at that particular point was to see her so that she could see the pain in my eyes and tell them to let me be. But I think she could not have helped me because she thought that it was a rite of passage that I should go through. According to my community during this fateful day, your mother is not supposed to be present as they believe you will cry and call her for help and as a woman who bears the pain of giving birth, a mother can’t stand to see the pain that you are going through. Together with me in that group was my friend. I could see in her eyes too the fear she had but we could not help each other as we were so young and were not given a chance to say NO. We were made a place to sit. Because of the fear, I refused to be the first to sit. My friend was made to sit first and I watched her go through the cut and this is one thing that is fresh in my mind. Then after my friend it was my turn, they took a piece of cloth, tied it around my eyes and held my head back and then they give me another piece which they put my mouth so that I could bite it during the whole process to ease the pain. Two women held my legs and hands so tight that I could not move. Still from the background I could hear the women singing and I felt that they were celebrating my pain, but the real reason for the songs was to diffuse the cries so that nobody can hear me crying. Then I felt a very sharp pain between my legs. This was a turning point in my life . The pain I felt can’t be described, thinking of it brings cold shivers inside me. I was circumcised, I felt  incomplete, out of control. I could not control the tears from my eyes as they spoke the  magnitude of the pain that I was feeling. After that I was taken to a house where I sat in a room crying and cursing. The pain  I was going through was unbearable. At the back of my mind so many questions were going through my head: What will happen after this? Will I be able to walk again in my life? Will this pain ever leave my life? So many questions crossed my mind. I was made to stay in that room for three weeks  and was not allowed to shower for the entire three weeks. It was also not good for me to be seen as they believed that I would heal faster if nobody saw me, especially a man, except the special women who were taking care of us. My life took a complete turn, I felt wasted and hopeless- the rest is history

Because of the pain and the agony I went through, it made me take the resolution to stand up and fight for the right of the girl child. I believe that if by that time I underwent FGM, I had known its dangers I could not have gone through with it. That’s why I resolved to share my story with Brownkey, the advocate for the rights of girls and young women who I believe can give them a future where they can say NO and be heard by the society.

FGM is an inhuman act which affects a girl’s biological make-up. As a girl I strongly believe that I have the responsibility to protect young girls from this act. To end these harmful practices and advance more equitable social harms, programs and schools should address the issue early in the girl’s life in order to alter the cultural expectations.

Women and men should be made aware of the fact that living free of violence is a basic human right. Also, well-meaning parents who view FGM as way to prepare daughters for marriage should change their behavior and recognize that the practice is a violation of the rights of girls.

As a girl who went through FGM, I believe that there is a future for me and I have a purpose in life. My advice to all girls who experienced FGM is that there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Life has to go on. Our society believes that once you have gone through FGM that is the only time you are ready for marriage but it is the other way round . Let us come out openly and be  ready to stand up for the rights of the girl child. It takes efforts to tell the world that FGM is outdated and outlawed.



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