I started practising Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) just after my elder sister passed away; she had also taken the knife after my mother died many years ago, and I was very proud to become a practitioner. It was very prestigious and had great social status to become an FGM practitioner in those days, as people used to view our family as one with honour and privilege.
I felt well respected in the community and people invited me everywhere to attend ceremonies. But now I believe it was purely traditional beliefs and nothing more.
I abandoned the practice 6 years ago, but I was confidentially practising it on children from the neighbourhood and on my close family until I was sensitised enough to be involved in Plan’s activities against female genital mutilation.
I feel regretful now about practising FGM for 20 years, as I wish I had known what I know now
Now I am a 100% activist against FGM. I attended many training sessions and meetings organised by Plan and I am working in my community to tell people everything l know about the practice. I know that FGM can lead to women having complications during birth and you can easily catch infections such as HIV and AIDS. I feel regretful now about practising FGM for 20 years, as l wish l had known what I know now.
We are doing a lot towards abandoning the practice but we still have a long way to go.
Give up the knife
Most of the people remain in the practice because it’s lucrative and at a community level practitioners are considered having spiritual power that makes them strong in the community and they are respected by both men and women. Due to this power they are often part of the decision making processes.
Since I left the knife, I have been selling fruits and vegetables to make a small income. Many people are afraid to do this, but I am working to convince as many as I can to give up the knife.
- 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM
- Involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia
- Mostly performed on girls between infancy and age 15
- Can cause severe bleeding, infertility, infections and increase risk of newborn deaths*
Plan works to raise awareness of FGM and change attitudes through a number of approaches - including outreach to religious leaders, community leaders, FGM practitioners, youth and parents.
* Facts from WHO. Plan is not responsible for the content on external websites.