Monday, October 26, 2009

Testimonies from FGM survivors...

Fatma's Story... America's next top model cycle 10
When I was 8 years old , my two sisters ,myself and our mother went to visit our family back home .I assumed we were going for a holiday. A bit later we were told that we were going to be infibulated.The day before our Mutilation was due to take place ,another girl was infibulated and she died. We fought back but our parents told us it was an obligation,I really thoought I was going to die from the pain.Afterwards they tied ropes across our legs, so it was like we had to learn to walk again. we had to try to go to the rest room, because if you couldn't pass water for the next ten days something went wrong,"explains Fatima

Talking about Female Genital Mutilation

There’s nothing wrong with sharing your story, with being vulnerable and weak. Sometimes that’s what makes us strong. People who have courage are the ones who can share their deepest secrets.

I used to write poems in high school and college, but I would always write in the third person, like it was about my cousins and other people I knew, and their experiences with female genital mutilation. But I never talked about me.

Most of my friends were completely shocked to find out I was mutilated. And some of them felt very betrayed that I didn’t tell them, but on the show, everything came out; the tears came out and the emotional journey began.

I was unraveling things I had never talked about before, and doing it on national television. I felt so vulnerable and I still feel vulnerable. But I glad I did it finally and I’m so proud of myself.

I’m not here to judge or criticize our culture and say these people are bad for practicing female circumcision. I think culture is very important – I’m just trying to find a way to talk about it. I want young girls to be able to express themselves because I feel like there’s a whole part of them that’s dead, and that they just don’t talk about.

I hope I didn’t offend anybody in the process of being on the show. I don’t regret anything I said or did, but I do have that problem of being less tactful at times. Maybe I was sometimes misunderstood, but I really want to thank all my fans.

An Estimated 189,00 women and girls in the united states had undergone FGM in 200. of these 48,00 were girls younger than 18:(((

Fatima’s Story

My name is Fatima* and I am from Guinea. I always dreamed of the life I could have had, if only my father did not die when I was a baby. My mother loved my father so much and was devastated when he died in a car accident. But she was not a widow for long. In line with our tribal customs, she was forced to marry my father’s brother, a greedy and abusive man. As my new stepfather, he physically abused us regularly. He beat my mother openly, punching her in the face in front of all of her young, scared children. My siblings and I were not spared from his unrestrained violence either. He often made me lie down on the floor and then would start beating me with his belt. He made our lives miserable.

All the more because of this terrible experience, I hoped to marry a man that I loved, just as my mother had when she married my father. But these hopes were dashed when, as a teenager, my stepfather forced me to marry a friend of his named Cheikh.* I was only 17, and this man was 42. I had not even completed high school. I was devastated and cried throughout the entire marriage ceremony.

This very real nightmare only got worse after my marriage to Cheikh. He was violent and beat me several times a week—using his fists, belts, and even small tree branches. I still have scars on my body and I cannot walk without pain to this very day. He raped me constantly, starting on my wedding night, when he held my face down and forced himself onto me.

Cheikh believed that it was shameful that I was not “circumcised.” In our tribe, almost all of the women undergo female genital mutilation. However, because my father was against the practice, and out of respect for his wishes, no one had forced me to go through it. When Cheikh asked me to undergo the procedure after marriage, I refused. Little did I know that he was planning to force it on me.

In 2004, Cheikh drove me to his village for a “vacation,” during which I stayed with his family members. A few days into our visit, his family told me that we were going to visit some family friends in the village. When I entered the door of the “family friends,” I was horrified to see several naked girls on the floor who were being cut. When I realized that this was a trap, I cried out and struggled to leave the house, but it was too late. My clothes were torn off, and three women pinned me to the ground while two others used a dirty knife to mutilate me. The pain was excruciating, and I struggled and screamed throughout the procedure.

I couldn’t walk normally, and I experienced recurring bleeding for several weeks after the procedure. When I returned to Cheikh, it was even more painful than before when he resumed raping me. He also continued beating me with as much fervor as before.

After unsuccessfully trying to run away from Cheikh on two different occasions, I finally got my chance to flee when my aunt and mother made secret arrangements for me to leave Guinea. After I arrived in the United States in 2006, I learned about the Tahirih Justice Center. Tahirih partnered with the great attorneys that worked on my asylum case, Kyle Cohen and Sara Zogg, from the law firm of Howrey, LLP. Due to their hard work on my behalf, I was granted asylum by an immigration judge in 2007, just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. I still don’t know how to thank my attorneys and everyone at the Tahirih Justice Center for all of their support throughout this difficult process. They are all truly my heroes.

Terror on Journalist who reports on FGM

Kidnapped by women, stripped naked, and paraded through the streets. This was the plight of four women journalists on February 7 in the city of Kenema in the African country of Sierra Leone. The reason? To punish them for reporting on female genital mutilation (FGM).

4% of women and girls in Sierra Leone ages 15 – 49 have experienced FGM, which is done to control their sexual urges, make them ready for marriage, and to make them an acceptable female member of society. Women cannot even hold office in Sierra Leone unless they have been cut.

Last year the Sierra Leone government said it would ban FGM, but it has done nothing about it. Patricia Kabbah, the late wife of previous President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, sponsored (paid for) the circumcisions of 15,000 girls in order to get votes for her husband. A decade ago, the woman who later became the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Women’s Affairs in Sierra Leone threatened to “sew up the mouths” of those who preach against FGM.

It is hard to imagine that women such as the journalists’ kidnappers, the ex-president’s wife, and a minster of women’s affairs would all advocate the barbaric practice of cutting off the clitoris (and sometimes also the labia) of girls. The practice is often done with a crude knife, razor blade, or even a piece of broken glass and can cause severe bleeding and infection, injure girls for life, make them incontinent, make them infertile, cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and can even cause death.

Rugiatu Turay Fights FGM - Credit: The Independent

Rugiatu Turay Fights FGM

One brave woman in Sierra Leone who is working to stop this practice is 26-year-old Rugiatu Turay. Ms. Turay is a victim of FGM herself. The Independent online reports this about what happened to Ms. Turay when she was 12 years old:

Ms Turay was mutilated at her aunt’s house where she was staying with her three sisters and her cousin. “We didn’t even know that we were going to be initiated,” she says. “They called me to get water and then outside they just grabbed me.”

She was blindfolded, stripped, and laid on the ground. Heavy women sat on her arms, her chest, her legs. Her mouth was stuffed with a rag. Her clitoris was cut off with a crude knife. Despite profuse bleeding she was forced to walk, was beaten and had hot pepper water poured into her eyes.

“My mother had always told me never to let anyone touch me there. I was scared and I tried to fight them off. Nobody talked to me but there was all this clapping, singing, shouting,” recalls Ms Turay. “When I tried to walk on the seventh day I could not walk. All they could say is ‘Today you have become a woman’.”

The Truth is Female genital mutilation include procedures that intentionally alter or injure to an extend of destroying FEMALE GENITAL ORGANS! Please help me fight FGM. STOP FGM

Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International

Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.