“I can never forget that night.
Maybe I was seven or eight years old.
Mama told me it was a remarkable day for me and took me to a room.
There were five women. One held my right hand another held my left, one by my waist and two by my legs.
A lady was standing there with a black colored bag, I never saw her in the village. She was smiling at me while my mama was talking to me,
‘Hey girl, you are the bravest right?’
‘Yes, but who is she?’
‘A lady who will make you the perfect woman of all…’ she said and placed a black cloth on my forehead before signalling something.
The lady took out a broken razor blade.
I was feeling like a criminal who is tied up. I could see dried blood on the edges.
She spat on it and wiped it on a cloth.
While she was scrubbing, my world went dark as mama tied the black cloth over my eyes.
The next thing I felt was my flesh being cut away.
I heard the blade swaying back and forth through my skin.
The feeling was undesirable.
I did not move an inch, fearing that if I do it then it would take more time to settle the pain.
Unfortunately, my legs didn’t listen to me and they started shuddering.
The next day I remembered, my bladder felt like bursting and I felt too bad to pee.
The sharp pain was still there and my legs were covered in dried blood, although my genital area was cleaned & wrapped in some cloth.
My mama convinced me that day to urinate at least a little.
I never asked her the reason and she never bothered to tell me why we have to do it?
Why cut my flesh and tie it?
What is the need?
Everything was hurting and I was lying motionless in pain. It took me about two weeks to recover from the pain.
Mama says the stitches will be removed by my husband in the future and I will be fine.
I can’t imagine the pain, I really can’t.”
There is the prevailing wisdom in North-Eastern African countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, that there are bad things between a girl’s legs when she was born.
A woman is considered dirty, oversexed and unmarriageable unless their parts like the clitoris, the labia minora and most parts of labia majora are removed in a process called INFIBULATION.
Then the wound is stitched shut, leaving only a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid to flow out.
Unfortunate woman forced into circumcision get significantly deprived of enjoying sex in their later life, feel difficulty during penetration because the surgical thin layer of skin that was stitched earlier to create a ‘skin seal’, has to be opened.
Usually, the husband uses his penis to create this opening.
In some settings, a circumciser or traditional midwife opens the infibulated scar with a knife or razor blade.
Later, during childbirth, a further opening is necessary to make room for the child’s passage.
And further, it increases the risk of HIV and genital infection as well as mental health problems.
It’s saddening to know that this is done by women to a woman.
How can you ask a mother who carried her baby in her womb for nine months to condemn her to social isolation when she grows up?
It’s time to redirect feminism and stop practices like INFIBULATION.
This prejudice has to be broken as soon as possible and make this world a better place to live in for all of us.
Ankita Behera is an undergraduate in a bachelor of technology. An amateur writer and a keen nature lover who loves traveling. When asked about life, she says that she is trying to manipulate the truths & realities of her life and weave meaningful stories out of them.