Survivors Tell the True, Horrific Story of the Scars They Carry from Female Genital Mutilation
#EndFGMToday Urges Remaining 15 States Without Anti-FGM Laws to Stand Up for Girls and Women in 2020
January 7, 2020
Washington, D.C.—Khatija “Kadi” Doumbia is one of the millions of survivors around the world who endured the physical and emotional scars of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Her voice, and many like hers right here in America, are sounding the alarm bell to the remaining 15 states that have not yet enacted anti-FGM laws to protect girls and women from this heinous practice.
Doumbia, a Mali native who left her country at the age of 18 and has been in the U.S. for 25 years, has worked closely with the national #EndFGMToday initiative, led by international child advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore, to tell her story and testify in front of several state legislatures.
“When lawmakers hear from an actual victim and survivor of female genital mutilation, the horrors of this practice become very real,” Yore said. “We applaud the brave women like Kadi who are working to make sure that other little girls do not endure the same trauma they did.”
EndFGMToday has repeatedly called on the 15 states across the nation—from Washington to Maine—that do not have legal protections in place for women and girls who are at risk for FGM. State laws are even more crucial now, Yore said, as the federal law criminalizing female genital mutilation was ruled unconstitutional by a district judge in late 2018.
Doumbia has shared that she experienced the horrors of female genital mutilation at the age of 5 or younger.
“I have no recollections of the actual cutting,” Doumbia said. “God only knows what happened because I do not even remember the physical pain that I must have gone through while I was being cut; I am thinking that I must have fainted. Though, I do remember vividly some of the events that took place around it, such as the healing process. I do also remember my mother caring for me and being in charge of my personal hygiene. I have been trying to find a reason why girls have to undergo female genital mutilation, but unfortunately, I have not yet found any valid reasons; perhaps there is no reason at all other than myths and ignorance.”
To help the efforts in Washington, one man has introduced a petition to the Washington State Senate, State House and Gov. Jay Inslee on Change.org.
“…My sister is a survivor of FGM,” writes petition creator Abid Saifee. “When I was eleven and she was seven, we traveled on our own to visit our aunt in India over the summer. What I thought was a routine summer vacation turned out to be a horror story for my sister. Our aunt cut my little sister in her basement clinic. I later learned that my aunt carried this out without our parents’ consent and, to this day, believes she did the right thing. … FGM is a human rights abuse, form of gender-based violence and child abuse. And in my sister’s words: FGM destroyed her childhood, shattered her self-confidence, and is something she will never fully recover from. Right now, we have the power to send a powerful message that FGM has no place in this country.”
Another FGM survivor in Kentucky also started an online petition. Jennifer underwent FGM as a child. She writes:
“FGM/C is often seen in the United States as a problem that doesn’t happen here. This practice occurs all over the world and is happening right here on American soil. FGM is a human rights violation, it is a practice that leaves victims with lifelong consequences and causes multiple physical complications. Initially a victim can suffer from shock, infection, blood loss and sometimes death. Most survivors suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, difficulty in childbirth, infertility, chronic pain, painful menstruation, painful intercourse and genital sores, many physical complications that a survivor must suffer with in silence. Women and girls are not just impacted in a physical way, many suffer from the emotional impact that this trauma can cause. Since FGM is regularly done in a non-sterile environment without any form of pain control, it is often one of the most traumatic events they will ever experience in their lives. Women and girls are left dealing with anxiety, depression, frequent nightmares and flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. All these complications are worsened by the fact that communities are unaware of what FGM/C is and are not educated on how to help someone that has endured FGM/C, which forces survivors to suffer in silence.”
Yore also noted that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a half million girls and woman in the U.S. are at risk for female genital mutilation. FGM is also recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation perpetrated upon little girls and women, and over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM.