Fatma Adan, a Hola resident in Tana River County, was around 8 years old, when she was subjected to an excruciating experience in the name of female genital mutilation (FGM), otherwise known as circumcision.
The exercise was conducted by her aunt, whom she knew too well; and did not suspect that she would expose her to pain that would forever remain etched in her memory.
“I was a Class Two pupil, when I was forcefully circumcised. My aunt had visited us in Hola, and told me she would go with me to my grandparents’ place. I told her: ‘Okay’. I had a strong urge of visiting my grandparents because I had never met them,” Ms Adan said in an interview with K24 aired on Wednesday, February 6.
“I went with her. On the second day, while at my grandparents’ place, my aunt asked her daughter and I to accompany her ‘somewhere’. The destination was a forested area, where there were five other girls around my age; that was where we were forcefully circumcised,” she said.
“After the exercise, they left us to heal on our own; there was no medication, whatsoever. I remember bleeding profusely and being forced to walk home in that condition. It was really painful,” said Ms Adan.
The young woman recounted how merciless, yet “so normal” the incident was to the circumcisers.
“Immediately after the circumcision, I remember they took a spoon and heated it till it was red-hot. They, thereafter, pressed it against my private parts,” said Ms Adan, adding: “They told me it was a must for any woman from our community to be circumcised.”
The effects of that exercise, which included dropping out of school, would follow her for the rest of her life, she narrated.
“When I got married, my husband used a razor blade to vertically cut the lower part of my vagina so that he could create a wider opening to allow his manhood to penetrate during sexual intercourse.
“When it came to giving birth, it was another harrowing experience! For three days, I was in pain. When I visited the hospital, the doctors told me that they had to vertically cut a section of my womanhood to create room for my baby’s head to push out,” said Ms Adan.
Fatma’s tale mirrors the tribulations young women in Kenya, especially from pastoralist communities, are subjected to.
At least 9 million women in Kenya have undergone the cut, latest data from the National Government show.
Gender Affairs Principal Secretary, Safina Kwekwe Tsungu, on Thursday, February 7, vowed that law enforcement officers will arrest and prosecute parents and guardians who will force their daughters to undergo FGM.
She spoke at the Maasai Mara University in Narok County after a two-day 2nd National End FGM Conference whose theme was “Ending FGM is My Responsibility”.