I had read about many young women and girls’ horrific experiences of female genital mutilation (FGM) before my recent trip to Kenya. But I had never heard the cutter’s point of view before. While I was there, I met two women who had previously made their living carrying out FGM but who are now passionate advocates against the practice.
Jane is a former cutter. It was hard to get my head around how one woman could do this to another. Jane told me that her mother was a cutter before her.
She stopped when she found out that a girl who she had cut later died from complications during childbirth due to FGM.
Jane is now part of an ActionAid supported women’s group that advocates against FGM. For it to be stopped altogether she says:
“Cutters must be identified and taken to a place where they can be taught about why it’s wrong. Men – especially the village chiefs – also need to be shown the proof of how it is not necessary and given teaching too.”
One girl almost bled to death
Mary, another former cutter, explained that it wasn’t so much a choice of career but rather it was the custom in her family to be cutters. Mary had no reason to consider that it could cause death – until the day when she cut one of the girls and she almost bled to death.
That’s when she had second thoughts. She explains her change of heart in this video:
After meeting Jane and Mary, Jane's heartfelt appeal has stayed with me:
“One thing I want to tell mothers of girls is please, when your daughters grow, talk to her and tell her to never think of having FGM because it is bad. Also, please send your girls to school so that they can help themselves to make the most of their lives.”
Join these former cutters who are championing the end of FGM, and help us educate more people about the importance of protecting girls before they are cut.
Photos: Jennifer Huxta/ActionAid
Video: Leanne Welham