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Anti-FGM campaign will succeed when men are actively involved, say survivors

Tuesday November 17, 2020

Sadia Hussein, an anti-FGM campaigner
SPEAKING OUT: Sadia Hussein, an anti-FGM campaigner Image: COURTESY

The end of FGM will be hastened if men are involved in the campaign instead of watching on the sidelines as girls are subjected to one of the most dehumanising practices, a survivor has said. 

Sadia Hussein, who is also an anti-female genital mutilation activist, said the vice should not be viewed just as a women's issue. 

Sadia was speaking on the Men End FGM YouTube platform during an interview on her experience with FGM.  

"It is important to involve men because at some point men and women are one and the same.

"However, when it comes to FGM, it has been made a women's issue. It starts with women and ends with women. That should not be the case," she said.

Men End FGM is a Kenyan organisation that rallies men and boys to unite against female genital mutilation, child marriage and other harmful practices.  

As a young girl, Sadia underwent infibulation, a type of FGM in which the vagina opening is sealed after the cutting and repositioning of the labia.

According to the World Health Organisation, infibulation is seen as a means of enforcing the cultural value of sexual purity in women and girls. 

Years later when Sadia was about to give birth, she had to return to the circumciser for her vaginal opening to be unsealed. 

"I thought a baby is something you should be happy about but for me, it was a disaster. I couldn't even sit properly because the cutter was just cutting me anyhow for me to just pass out the baby," she said. 

The anti-FGM activist said it was after she gave birth to her daughter that she decided to be an advocate against female circumcision. 

"... not being able to sit properly and hug my own daughter and breastfeed her properly... I said it shouldn't happen to her as well. That's when I said enough. This is not a culture but a trauma with lifetime complications," she said. 

According to Sadia, FGM makes women and girls endure a lot of suffering in silence.

"Nobody talks about it, especially men," she says.

Sadia is also the coordinator of Dayaa Women Group, a survivors-led group that campaigns against the female cut. 

Medic and FGM survivor Rosaline Galgalu also spoke on the same platform. She was first cut when she was six years old and again when she was 12.

She had complications during childbirth and had to undergo five caesarean sections. 

Galgalu too wants men to be involved in ending the practice and is optimistic that one day, FGM will belong to the past. 

Mumia Jirmo, another anti-FGM activist and survivor, said survivors need to be listened to because they all have different experiences.

 "I would urge men to be in the frontline and to be agents of change. I will be so happy to see the world one day celebrating the end of FGM," she said.

Kenya, according to Unicef, has four million girls and women who have been circumcised. 

The country's FGM prevalence rate is 21 per cent. 


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