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In this 21st century, when most women are treated equally, some countries are still assaulting women by culturally ingrained practices. Women in more than 31 countries have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), partial or total removal of female internal or external genitalia. Though FGM is banned globally, the practice’s prevalence has not declined.

According to the UN organisation, the likelihood of FGM on minors now is one-third lower than thirty years ago. However, progress has been made towards achieving gender equality and the abolition of FGM by 2030. 

Many non-profit organisations and communities in Kenya are in the progress of eradicating FGM, child marriage, and malnutrition. As I wanted to delve more into FGM, I have spoken to many survivors and to their family members from Isiolo County to gather the reasons behind the practice and its long-lasting effects.

Meet, Dr Rosaline Gollo, the founder of WASO Hope Community Based Organisation (CBO), who had undergone type 3 FGM, shared her painful story and how she overcame the trauma to become an influential activist in their community.

When Rosaline was eight years old, she was taken to a rural village near Merti in Isiolo County by her family members to get cut. Rosaline was forcibly taken inside and pinned to the ground by a old lady, and her legs were tightly bound. She found many girls lying on the floor unconsciously, some screaming due to pain. She was terrified after encountering the circumcision methods. The circumciser used a razorblade to narrow down the vaginal opening and sutured her clitoris glans together. Rosaline said, “My genitalia was amputated twice because they failed to leave a 2-3 mm passage for urination and menstruation.

  “I have undergone terrible pain and trauma due to FGM”. Rosaline had difficulties during her pregnancies, moreover the doctor said that she could not give birth naturally due to FGM. During her labour, she faced a miscarriage due to her poor reproductive health.

However, her husband, Hussien Jaro Goa, continuously supported her throughout their marital life. Rosaline and her husband had difficulties in their physical intimacy as she could not naturally lubricate while their intimacy. Hussein said, “I was emotionally not stable in the initial period of our marriage. I was worried about her pain during sexual intercourse.

“After realising my wife’s pain, I decided to protect my daughters from FGM”.

 Mr Hussien encouraged Rosaline to share her story to create awareness in the rural villages of Kenya. Eventually, they established a community organisation to outreach FGM survivors. Many survivors have joined in Rosaline’s organisation to decline the practice in their county.

One of her daughters, Roma Hussein, said, “Myself and my three sisters had not undergone genital mutilation. Our parents protected us from the harmful practices of FGM. She also stated that we got more privileges than other girls in our community.”

Her experience shows that if we have enough family support, we can break the social norms.

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May 2024