Guest blog by Natalie Robi.
As a young girl in my community no one ever told me the harmful effects of the cut, all everyone spoke about is how you will become a woman and stop being a child. A celebration during the cutting season made someone feel very special because goats and even a cow would be slaughtered for your ceremony. It was every young girl’s dreams. No one told you the excruciating pain you would experience (whereby you were not to shed a single tear or else you will be considered a coward) or the life threatening effects. Overtime I learnt how horrible the practice is and made it my life’s goal to end the cut in my community and other practicing communities, so as to also make it safer for uncircumcised girls to live in the community without constant abuse and humiliation.
So why do I think the cut should end? This practice involves cutting a girl’s clitoris, labia, often using unsterilized blades and knives without anesthesia. It can cause severe bleeding, infections, infertility and even death. For a young girl subjected to Female genital mutilation the pain does not end with the cut of the blade, she relives the trauma for the rest of her life by the scars left. In most cases she will get married which means an end to her education and even worse of death due to the complications. Today 200 million women and girls are living with the lifelong effects of the cut.
Here are two reasons why young people play a crucial role in ending the cut in our communities:
First the future circumciser, council of elder, parent, administrator, opinion leader is now a young person, by ensuring that all young people girls and boys alike are involved in the movement we are certain to build a generation that will stand up against the cut.
Secondly we account for over 50% of our population that means we are the greatest stakeholders by population size; we can therefore not speak about realizing zero FGM in our communities without involving us.
So what should happen? I know and have met a new generation of trailblazers who are actively working in their communities with little or no resource at all. It’s about time we stopped having hugely funded conferences and summits and instead went down to the communities and supported these great activists, campaigners, change makers redefining the End FGM movement. FGM ends with me and everyone is coming with me.