My Story as an FGM Victim
I woke up to the aroma of fresh mandazi (fried bread) served with thick tea and sweet bananas. I originate from the Kisii tribe in Kenya, and this is the exact representation of what you can get on the table every morning for breakfast.
We ere three girls being ‘honored’ on this big day. We were too important on this day, secluded in one dark room with small windows.SUSAN NYABENA
After breakfast, the do’s and don’ts were laid out. This was the day that we were to graduate from childhood to adulthood. Whatever was to happen that day, were memories we had since that nine would talk about. All we knew is that we were ‘dirty’ and we will get pure after it is done. On this chilly morning, the lady walked in, she laid all her working tools. Our legs held so much apart to give enough visibility for the lady and to avoid any complications. The pain was too much. We got patched with cotton wool and sticking plaster. The days that followed next were the worst; going to piss has never been that painful.
The act as little as it seemed, I came to realize that it changed my life forever. I have since lived with the trauma from that day. To how I sit, eat, interact with men, my elders and most importantly, the never-ending lessons on how to be a good wife. Kisii community still practices Female Genital Mutilation/Cut (FGM/C) religiously. The firm belief remains that, undergoing FGM is the only way that guarantees one to grow into a full woman and tame all the raging hormones in a woman’s body, basically taming women’s sexuality.
My career to fighting for human rights, especially on FGM started when I joined campus to study B.A in Gender and Development studies and my extension to studying M.A in Human Rights. I dived into the real work when I started working. My experience as a social worker and a gender advocate has placed me right in the middle of advocacy work.SUSAN NYABENA
As part of my primary strategy has been to create awareness of this scourge and giving alternatives to FGM. I have worked closely with the African Union Commission, Women, Gender and Development Directorate and the Department of Social Affairs mostly on communication, social media campaigns and creation of awareness. I have hence had the platform to share my life journey as the victim of FGM/C. Currently, I have since started an online magazine Gender Ink Magazine which is devoted to ink gender issues; documenting the struggles and achievements acquired through the journey of achieving Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The Magazine is used as a platform to create awareness, to run campaigns and give opportunities to others to talk about their experiences and talk alternatives to FGM/C.
Harmful practises such as FGM is prevalent in Sub-Saharan area. I plan to share my experience and advocate against such practices in collaboration with a specialized agency working to empower women especially by using ICT tools. I have also invested my time to visit villages in Kisii, involving majorly the Community Leaders and Religious Leaders who play a crucial role in the execution of FGM/C. We have tailored the sessions given to the women and girls that allows them to have workshops and graduate in replacement of the FGM ceremony.