My name is Jaha Dukureh. I am 23 years old and I think it is time we openly talk about ending FGM. We need to lift ourselves and become healers in our community. We need to restore the broken and encourage the discouraged. We are strong and we will not let FGM silence us, we shall be heard.
The purpose of this Blog is to engage in an open dialogue with the greater female population of America and around the world, those from communities, mostly affected by FGM. The practice of FGM is most prevalent in these communities due to lack of awareness and education. The believe is that it is a religious obligation. The fact is that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation predates religion and is not prescribed by Islam or Christianity.
I need my fellow women to speak up; let’s share our experiences, let’s talk about how this has affected us. I will start by sharing my story. This is not about being against my tradition or who I am; this is more about who I am and what I believe in. I believe every woman has the right to their body, and I am sure most of us will love to know what it feels like to be fully aroused. FGM took away a part of my femininity, my ownership to my body. I don’t think FGM makes me cleaner neither does it prevent me from STDs. FGM makes me more vulnerable to STDs.
I would like to start this blog with one of the reasons why this fight is so close to me. In 1998, I was nine years old. A beautiful baby was born in to my family, she was my half-sister. She was so precious. Her eyes glowed like morning sun; a head full of hair, her skin was satin silk soft. She was an angel, an angel that only stayed for two weeks. On day 7, she was named Fatou, a beautiful name, named after her grandmother. The naming ceremony was a celebration with food and family company. I remember the joy my father had, as his newest wife just gave birth to her first child. There were lots of meat, lots of drinks and I remember nothing but the smiles of the people that were in attendance. As the crowd left the ceremony, Fatou was ready to go through yet another tradition. A close family friend of ours was in attendance and she performed all the circumcisions in my family, both male and female including me. She was the best they knew, my parents trusted her. I remember my step mother being both anxious and happy, she wanted her daughter to be fully a woman. Fatou screamed as they cut her, she was so innocent yet so fragile. Her tiny body could not take the pain, she bled heavily hours after she was mutilated. My mother advised that she be taken to the hospital, the bleeding didn’t stop and she died as a result. I understand god is responsible for every life but the concept of mutilating women does not sit well with me. I saw the pain my step mother went through, losing her first child and even as a child I knew my daughter will never go through that.