I wasn’t even 14-years-old when my parents decided to marry me off to a man – against my will. I was very young and the man was so much older than me. But there was no way to escape him.
People still think that by being circumcised you become a “real, complete woman”. The ceremony marks the transition to adulthood.
After the circumcision, a girl can be married off, which results in a dowry for the family. It’s just part of the deal. So, I was cut and then married.
In the first month of my marriage, I got pregnant and became very ashamed to go anywhere. People would see how young I was and realise I was just a child – a child who was pregnant.
They would make up false rumours about me – that I was carrying an illegitimate child and couldn’t possibly be married. I couldn’t handle it. So, I started to isolate myself.
Girls seldom hear from their families about the dire consequences of genital mutilation/cutting. But the consequences are incalculable.
They range from severe internal bleeding, pain during intercourse and incontinence, to cysts, complicated infections and infertility. Most women don’t even know that circumcision can lead to childbirth complications and an increased risk of stillbirths.
I experienced this first-hand during my pregnancy. I was four days away from a normal delivery but due to my young age, I started to face complications and had to have a caesarean.
The surgery caused me to become unconscious for five hours. If it wasn’t for the caesarean surgery my baby and I would have died.
This is why I tell my story. I meet many women in my community who deny or trivialise the seriousness of FGM/C. I want more women in my area to speak out about the dangers of FGM/C and early marriage to young girls and women.
I want to tell them about what happened to me. This is the only way I know how I can stop another young girl becoming a statistic.
We need to start speaking out about it, to stop hiding behind our shame, to face our trauma head-on even when it hurts us. It’s important that we talk to mothers who are passing on this trauma to their daughters – they simply see it as a tradition.
We need to educate and inform communities to create a dialogue on a subject that has for so long been taboo.
The most harrowing moment that will stay with me forever is when I watched a 6-year-old girl bleed to death because her body couldn’t handle the mutilation.
I refuse to watch another child go through that.
Taking action: Islamic Relief