Birtukan, 15: My daughter will not be cut
“The Uncut Girls’ Club gave me the opportunity to change my attitude. Now I want to offer others the same chance. In the past, everything connected to FGM felt intimidating, but the club has given me the courage to say no.
“The club has increased the self-confidence of us, the girls, in many ways. As we have the courage to speak out on a sensitive matter, we also dare to speak out in class and answer just as eagerly as the boys.
“I think that the appreciation for girls and women in our society will grow more, the more active and better informed girls become. In the past, parents would rather just send their boys to school, but this is starting to change as a result of Plan International’s work.
“When I grow up, I want to have a daughter. And she will not be cut.”
Weyinitu, 12: I used to respect traditional circumcisers
“My FGM date had already been set when the project against FGM was launched at my school. When I became educated about the consequences of FGM, there was only one thought in my mind: my FGM must be called off! Fortunately, my parents listened to the new information, and they understood and supported me.
“Before, I used to respect the traditional circumcisers, but now I have started to question their knowledge and skills. For example, it is extremely dangerous for them to be using the same, unclean razor blade for cutting more than one girl. That is exactly how the HIV virus spreads.
“If my future husband wants to have a cut bride, I will refuse to have FGM. I will try to explain to him the consequences of FGM. He can marry me only if he understands my decision.”
Dorite, 14: We are proud we have not been cut
“I have not had FGM. My parents made the decision to spare all their daughters from FGM even before Plan International started spreading information in our village.
“However, 2 of my older sisters decided to have the procedure of their own free will. They were afraid that, unless they were cut, they would be bullied and no one would want to marry them. They took on odd jobs to collect the money for the procedure, and the traditional circumciser in our village did it with a razor blade.
“Following our sisters’ example, my little sister and I began planning to go see the circumciser without our parents’ permission. Everything changed when Plan International started the Uncut Girls’ Club at our school. It is a girls-only club that spreads information about the perils of FGM and encourages girls to speak out against harmful practices in their own communities.
Now that we know about it properly, we are proud we have not been cut. We speak about the issue to others in our village and warn parents against cutting their daughters.”
Dirshaye, 13: Now, my mother avidly opposes FGM
“I know a girl who suffered because of her FGM. She was cut when she was 9. There was a lot of blood, and the girl could not go to the hospital, because her family was scared they would be punished. FGM is prohibited by Ethiopian law and the people risked being fined.
“My friend was treated by the traditional circumciser, with traditional methods. She had a bad infection and was in bed for over a month. She is still in a lot of pain, even though she is 14 now. She also has a scar that will surely complicate her deliveries.
“For me, my friend serves as an example. When I heard of her experience, I decided I would not go through the same. My mother was puzzled by my decision and asked me why I did not want to be a part of this respected tradition. When I told her the things I have learnt at school and at the Uncut Girls’ Club, she began to fully support me. Now, my mother avidly opposes FGM.”
Find out more about Plan International's work to end FGM