The Secret World of Female Circumcision
NAIROBI – As a child in rural Kenya, I was a secret admirer of female genital mutilation. I was swayed by talk of friends and elders about how once a girl undergoes “the cut,” she gains respect and grown men consider her suitable for marriage. Perhaps these were the reasons why, as a girl of 13, I longed to be “circumcised” and become a “real woman.”
My mother opposed the practice, however, because she was (and remains) a Christian and wanted me to become educated and to escape the fate of many girls in my community who are married off to older men and then lose their autonomy. I tried to persuade my mother to permit my circumcision, but she refused.
My mother’s decision angered me. In frustration, I spoke with a few other schoolgirls. Each of them gave a different version of the process, but they held a common view: circumcision is intensely painful, and I must be prepared for much bleeding. And yet the friends to whom I spoke encouraged me to get circumcised.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in