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Happy international zero tolerance day for FGM. I commend all the brave women that are out there that have used their voices and took a stand against FGM. Thank you to everyone that has subscribed to my blog. Never in a million years did I imagine as many people will sign up and be interested in what I had to say. Today I took a pledge to start a survivor led organization against FGM. When I spoke with Taina this afternoon, I didn’t think I will get as much support but my Gambian sisters have all opened their hands and are willing to take this journey with me. We have a long to go but I believe with all of your help we can do it. I am energized and I can’t wait to see what we do.
It’s been a while since I last posted and I just wanted to write this post and inform most of you about the laws that in place in the US regarding FGM. It is illegal to perform FGM in the United States, it also also illegal to perform FGM on kids that were born here in the United States outside the country. The US government prohibits vacation cutting. The US government does not stop people from taking their children to their home countries. I have been hearing a lot of rumors about the laws on FGM especially in the African community. A lot of the information that I have been hearing is absolutely false and most of you have been misinformed. It is not illegal to take your kids outside the country. You can take your children where ever you want as long as you don’t cut them. The laws that are being questioned here are not effective because I know they are not being used properly. FGM is something that affects most of our lives and our communities. If we can use this energy in spreading accurate information we can save a lot of lives. The US government has laws in place to protect immigrants facing FGM. Most of these laws are not to criminalize or hurt. There are immigration benefits that have helped a lot of people. Their is no such bill that I helped pass that says you cannot take your kids outside the US. I want to see an end to FGM and that’s that. I am not here to criminalize anyone or say that I am better than them. I know what I believe in and I know FGM is injustice to women and it is inhumane. I want to raise awareness, not alone but with my community.
I wanted to write this and talk a little about an organization that I became a member of when I was back home in The Gambia. This was in the seventh grade and on my way home, I stopped there everyday to get water to drink. It became known to us at center and going to center became a daily routine. Students from different schools in The Gambia met their almost every single day after school. It didn’t matter what your background is or what tribe you were from. Lend A Hand was our home, our family. From the HIV education to the summer programs and the fun super Saturdays, somehow this organization turned each and everyone of us into some type of leaders. We were all unique and different in our own ways. I was the wild sarahule child that found myself through my peers at center. I saw a life beyond being a typical house wife. I met my second dad whom to this day I call ‘papa Fra’. I also met my best friend at center. Lend A Hand thought me about humanity, compassion, comradery and being me. We went to center for the food, the piece of mind, the lessons and everything that it offered. One thing that I am most proud of is when I look at us center kids I see everyone doing great in what they do. Lend a Hand had produced Gambia’s biggest talents and activist. Fra, Left and Jibba y’all ought to be super proud. The memories I have will forever stay with me and I am glad this organization had such a huge impact on my life. Happy 18th anniversary LAHS. One of my biggest memories will Of course include all the lies I told my parents about my whereabouts just so I can attend meetings and talent shows. And yes my hot in here performance with Goreh Sarkis or the ala ala performance with Cornelia crooks and the days me and Haddy Mbow walk tens of miles because we didn’t have transportation but we still chose to be there. This was one part of my childhood that I refuse to forget.
So tonight it seems like I am in the mood to blog and blog. As I was doing my research for the vacation cutting stories, one of my Kenyan friends brought this quote to my attention. This was a quote that was made by the late president of Kenya and here we go.
“The operation is (still) regarded as the very essence of an institution which has enormous educational, social, moral and religious implications, quite apart from the operation itself. For the present it is impossible for a member of the tribe to imagine an initiation without clitordectomy (FGM). Therefore, the abolition of the surgical element in this custom means to the Gikuyu the abolition of the whole institution.”
After saying this, he then went on to talk about how uncircumcised women are viewed in his society.
“In the matrimonial relation, the rite of passage is the deciding factor. No proper Gikuyu would dream of marrying a girl who has not been circumcised, and vice versa. It is a taboo for a Gikuyu man or woman to have sexual relations with someone who has not undergone this operation. If it happens, a man or a women must go through a ceremonial purification, – namely, ritual vomiting of the evil deeds. A few detribalized Gikuyu, while they are away from home for some years, have thought fit to denounce the custom and to marry uncircumcised girls, especially from coastal tribes, thinking that they could bring them back to their father’s home without offending the parents. But to their surprise they found that their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, following the tribal custom, are not prepared to welcome as a relative-in-law anyone who has not fulfilled the ritual qualifications for matrimony. Therefore, a problem has faced these semi detribalized Gikuyu when they wanted to return to their homeland. Their parents have demanded that if their sons wished to settle down and have the blessings of the family and the clan, they must divorce the wife married outside the rigid tribal and then marry a girl with the approved tribal qualifications. Failing this, they have been turned out and disinherited.”
With comments like this we are still holding our society back. It amazes me that nothing has changed. His statements eco from people in my own community and speaking against FGM is a taboo something that should not be done. People think it is funny when I pour my heart out and talk about the dangers of FGM. A lot of times I am looked at crazy and that is perfectly fine.
Hi beautiful people!
I know it has been a minute since I last blogged but I have been working on something exciting and that is what has been taking all my energy away. With a full time job, two amazing babies and a husband that wants me to cook every day; you can imagine what my day looks like.
I have been collecting stories of vacation cutting and it is the most amazing thing I have done ever in my life. People in the United States won’t understand what FGM is until we give it a voice and a face. I am excited about this project and I am still looking for stories.
If you will like to share your story with me, you can comment below or send me an email. I will not use your real name unless you want me to. The reason why I decided to write about this is because, the most powerful tool that we have is ourselves and we are the strongest tool to fighting FGM. With our stories we can raise awareness and maybe we can finally get the resources and attention we need to put an end to it.
I want to hear from people that are for and against FGM and my email address is email@example.com.
Below is the report on FGM by sanctuary for families and I think it is absolutely amazing. I contributed a lot to this report and I like that it’s not just one voice. This report features women from all over Africa and the United States. It is very moving and powerful and I recommend that you all read it.
Happy international women’s day, we have come a long way. From fighting for our rights to vote to the generation of requiring equal pay. I am 100% Soninke and I am very proud of who I am. They say today is women’s day but we still make it a taboo for women to have power, to be brave, to be confident and to be anything they want. We make it wrong for people to accept their sexuality, their individuality and for people to speak up about what they believe in. When I talk about FGM, its nothing against my parents or any member of family, rather it’s for the next generation that is at risk of going through the procedure. I believe FGM is a humans right violation, I don’t think my Dad is evil for having FGM performed on me; I think it’s the lack of awareness and education. I respect my dad more than anyone I have met and I have so much admiration for him.
I am not here to criminalize anyone; I am not asking anyone to agree with me. We all have the right to share different believes, we have the right to disagree. Me thinking FGM is wrong does not mean I want my father locked up it simply means I want us to come together as a community and say no to FGM. After everything I heard today about my article in the newspaper, I decided to do some research on Islam’s point of view on FGM. And not a single hadith or verse in the Quran mentions that it is Farla or Sunnah.
I also don’t agree with early marriage and that doesn’t mean I am not happy in my marriage. I have a great man that supports me and he loves my kids. He respects me as a woman and I have as much respect for him.
I don’t have any regrets in my life. Life thought me how to be me, so unless you have walked in my shoes, been where I have been, seen what I have seen, you can’t judge me. I am Muslim and I am proud to be one. My religion teaches me about peace and not harm. My religion is ease; it’s not danger, its love, prosperity, compassion. It’s not hatred or adversity.
For all FGM victims in NYC that need help either immigration help or counseling please contact me. There are organization in New York that I can partner you with and they can provide you with a lot of resources. As a woman you have a right and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
As FGM has been at the forefront of many political debates, actions are currently being taken by international institutions, local civil societies and governments to end the traditional practice.
Two African nations that have been mobilizing such efforts are Kenya and Uganda. Below is a link to an article by Godfrey Olukya, titled “Uganda and Kenya to jointly fight female genital mutilation,” detailing the actions of the two governments to end FGM.
Also, a regional feminist organization that has been at the forefront of eliminating and bringing international awareness to the practice in The Gambia and other African nations is GAMCOTRAP. Below is a link to the GAMCOTRAP website; support the organization in their great efforts!