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I suffered when I underwent FGM

Youma, 13, lives in South West Mali, with her mother and brothers. She recently learnt she underwent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – known as excision in Mali - when she was a baby….

“I recently learnt I was excised. I do not remember when it happened. It must have been when I was a baby.

“I used to live with my father, but after he died, I went to live with my mother and brothers. It was my mother who told me about my excision and how I suffered from this practice.

“When I hear about the consequences of excision I realise I’ve been fortunate not to have felt the effects other girls in the village have experienced.

“My mother never explained the practice of excision, so I never really knew what it meant. The only information I was given was from talks organised by Plan International.

“Now I have a clearer idea of what excision is. I understand it is the practice of female genital cutting, which consists of removing a small internal part of the girl’s sex with a knife, which causes bleeding.

“The talks take place once a month in my village. Women are able to discuss the problems they are facing. Even young girls are invited to attend the meetings whenever they want.

“Sometimes I feel ashamed and embarrassed to attend the talks with my mother. Photographs are shown of women without clothes – many of the other girls feel this way too. Normally my friends just limit themselves to what they learn in the streets with their peers.

“Many mothers say the talks are useful, as women are given tips on how to protect themselves.

A change is starting

“Things are starting to change now, especially in my village, as a ceremony was held signaling the abandonment of excision. Now, the village chief and his advisers no longer accept babies should be excised in our village.

“If all the parents agree with this decision, it will be good for children. I do believe excision is no longer taking place, as people say all the girls born in recent years in our community have not been excised.”

“I recently learnt I was excised. I do not remember when it happened. It must have been when I was a baby.

“I used to live with my father, but after he died, I went to live with my mother and brothers. It was my mother who told me about my excision and how I suffered from this practice.

“When I hear about the consequences of excision I realise I’ve been fortunate not to have felt the effects other girls in the village have experienced.

“My mother never explained the practice of excision, so I never really knew what it meant. The only information I was given was from talks organised by Plan International.

“Now I have a clearer idea of what excision is. I understand it is the practice of female genital cutting, which consists of removing a small internal part of the girl’s sex with a knife, which causes bleeding.

“The talks take place once a month in my village. Women are able to discuss the problems they are facing.

Youma attending Plan International trainings in Mali

Even young girls are invited to attend the meetings whenever they want.

“Sometimes I feel ashamed and embarrassed to attend the talks with my mother. Photographs are shown of women without clothes – many of the other girls feel this way too. Normally my friends just limit themselves to what they learn in the streets with their peers.

“Many mothers say the talks are useful, as women are given tips on how to protect themselves.

A change is starting

“Things are starting to change now, especially in my village, as a ceremony was held signaling the abandonment of excision. Now, the village chief and his advisers no longer accept babies should be excised in our village.

“If all the parents agree with this decision, it will be good for children. I do believe excision is no longer taking place, as people say all the girls born in recent years in our community have not been excised.”