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The horror of female genital mutilation in the UK

Teri- Oregon 2012/05/31 03:49:23
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London, United Kingdom – "After the pain, it was the screaming that I'll never forget. It wasn't just mine and my sister's screams, there were so many other girls there - all being cut. I've never heard screams like that again and I don't think I ever will."

Aissa, from Mali, West Africa was just six years old when she and her one year-old sister were told: "We have to go somewhere". The sisters were taken on a journey by the female members of their family, oblivious to the torturous destination that was waiting for them. Aissa and her sister were then forced to endure a depraved ritual, scarring them for perpetuity: female genital mutilation.

I ask Aissa, now 29 and living and working as a midwife in London, what she can remember of that day when she and her little sister arrived at the place they were taken to by their step mother. "Isn't it ironic?" says Aissa, "That I can remember everything so clearly, like it happened yesterday, but that is only because the memories of the blood, the pain, the screaming will always haunt me, like a re-occurring bad dream".

Aissa describes how her sister was taken away by a woman to "wait for her turn" while Aissa's stepmother instructed her to lay down on a bed. Aissa did as she was told, as four women stood over her pinning her to the bed and one woman began to cut her. No anaesthetic was used to remove Aissa's clitoris with a razor blade. Aissa explains that it doesn't matter how tightly you are held down, your body instinctively convulses, which results in deeper and longer incisions.

"The pain is, well, it's so difficult to describe to you what it is like. Imagine when you cut your finger, it's a million times worse than that. But that doesn't even begin to describe the type of pain that takes over when the part of your body that has the most nerve endings in it is cut away. Only girls who have been cut will ever know what that level of pain is like. I honestly thought I was going to die, and then everything went black."

Aissa then tells me there is another reason why she will never ever forget that day. Almost whispering, she says: "It was the first time I had ever slept in a real bed; we had always slept on the floor before. I can't remember how long I stayed in the bed, maybe one or two weeks until I was able to walk again."

As you read this, vulnerable young girls (children in the majority of cases) across the world are being led to a place by their mothers, stepmothers, aunts and grandmothers where they will be subjected to physical and emotional pain like no other. That physical and emotional pain inflicted on them, on so many levels, will be and will stay at such an intensity, there are just no appropriate words to attempt to describe the young girls' ordeals. To listen to another woman reflect back to the time she was betrayed by those whom she loved and trusted the most, through the most invasive, barbaric and brutal treachery, is only comparable to torture so extreme it just can't be real, except it is.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also referred to as Female Genital Cutting (FGC), is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The World Health Organisation says FGM also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death. The United Nations, Amnesty International and UNICEF are just three of many organisations across the world working tirelessly to 'consign FGM to history'.

read more http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/201252810213...

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