The horror of female genital mutilation in the UK

Al Jazeera - 30 May 2012 - From Siobhan Courtney

London, United Kingdom – "After the pain, it was the screaming that I'll never forget. It wasn't just mine and my sister's screams, there were so many other girls there - all being cut. I've never heard screams like that again and I don't think I ever will."

Aissa, from Mali, West Africa was just six years old when she and her one year-old sister were told: "We have to go somewhere". The sisters were taken on a journey by the female members of their family, oblivious to the torturous destination that was waiting for them. Aissa and her sister were then forced to endure a depraved ritual, scarring them for perpetuity: female genital mutilation.

I ask Aissa, now 29 and living and working as a midwife in London, what she can remember of that day when she and her little sister arrived at the place they were taken to by their step mother. "Isn't it ironic?" says Aissa, "That I can remember everything so clearly, like it happened yesterday, but that is only because the memories of the blood, the pain, the screaming will always haunt me, like a re-occurring bad dream".

Aissa describes how her sister was taken away by a woman to "wait for her turn" while Aissa's stepmother instructed her to lay down on a bed. Aissa did as she was told, as four women stood over her pinning her to the bed and one woman began to cut her. No anaesthetic was used to remove Aissa's clitoris with a razor blade. Aissa explains that it doesn't matter how tightly you are held down, your body instinctively convulses, which results in deeper and longer incisions. (...)

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