Scars of a Slice

Once this long kintir (clitoris) is removed you and your sister will be pure. My sisters and I never had those words uttered to us, but around the globe millions of girls have been sliced and diced in the name of purity. WHO estimates there are 3 million girls at risk of experiencing this traumatic event each year. February 6th is considered International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation but why we have any tolerance for this practice on any other given day?

FGM often hides under the banner of religion and culture, though there is no scripture that calls for this practice to occur. With zero health benefits, this practice only leaves girls with scars both physical and emotional for the rest of their lives. Because this practice is considered the “right” thing to do and a vital step in raising a girl “properly”, it often happens in the context of a celebration. Birthdays are an exciting occasion as a young child filled with sweets, presents, a gathering of your friends and family, balloons, streamers and being held down to get your private parts sliced. Wait. What?

You’re not a baby when this procedure is forced upon you, often done between the ages of 4-14 this is not a forgotten childhood event. Sometimes the worst part of experiencing atrocities in life is being witness to your family members going through it as well. Ayaan Hirsi Ali had the misfortune not only of having FGM done to her, but being in earshot distance of listening to her younger sister howl in pain when she was being mutilated. I can’t bear this thought, yet millions of girls have survived through the butchering and risen above their plight.

This is an excerpt from the book Infidel (page 32) that describes Ayaan’s FGM experience:

“Then the scissors went down between my legs and the man cut off my inner labia and clitoris. I heard it, like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs, indescribable, and I howled. Then came the sewing: the long, blunt needle clumsily pushed into my bleeding outer labia…When the sewing was finished, the man cut the thread off with his teeth.”

The recovery process is no less disturbing to read about but I encourage you to read on and raise your voice against FGM. Please refer to WHO for facts and the AHA Foundation for ways to get involved and do your part. This violation of human rights cannot continue; let’s take a stand and work towards a world that celebrates girls instead of mutilating them.

-Kavita Dogra

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