Genitals mutilated to ‘protect’ her from pre-marital sex

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Female genital mutilation is still being practiced across South Africa and one Mandeni woman has taken a stand against this barbaric practice.

Thirty-three years after being forcefully mutilated, the 42-year-old Xhosa woman still lives with the scars and trauma from the act that will forever be etched into her mind.

The mother of two, who asked to remain anonymous, said she felt stripped of her dignity when her genitals were mutilated when she was just nine years old.

“My mother worked in Johannesburg and I lived on a farm with my aunt just outside Johannesburg.

“I was a happy tomboy and I enjoyed playing with boys and climbing trees. I use to run away when it was my turn to cook or clean because I hated doing chores just like most children.

“My aunt suspected that I was attracted to the boys and she thought that they would touch me and that I liked it. She said she was going to help me to concentrate on performing my female duties without being distracted.

“A week later she took me to a traditional circumciser that lived a few doors away from us, where my clitoris was cut off.”

Although genital mutilation is a violation of human rights, it is still practised as a way to reduce premarital sex and pregnancy as it is believed to reduce a woman’s desire to have sex.

The gruesome act, which is usually carried out by traditional circumcisers, involves the removal of a part or the whole external female genitalia or some form of injury to the genital organ.

A Mandeni woman was brutally mutilated at nine-years-old.

Still traumatised by the memory and nervously fiddling with her hands, the woman said she was woken one night in December 1984 and taken by her uncle and aunt to a warm hut that was in her neighbourhood where they met with the circumciser.

“It was the worst day of my life and I will never forget that pain. My aunt held me down and she kept telling me that they were helping me. A man I cannot remember much of spread my legs apart and I just felt the most painful thing happen. They cut off my clitoris. It was quick but so painful and messy.

“I was screaming and my aunt comforted me by saying ‘Kuhle yayo kuwe’ meaning ‘it’s good for you’ in Khosa.”

Still tormented, she traced her finger down her leg describing how the blood loss was so much that combined with the pain, she thought she would die.

The woman said she was wiped by her aunt and taken home where she was properly cleaned up and bandaged. Bathing and using the toilet caused excruciating pain for over three months.

She did not receive medical treatment even though she thought the wound was infected.

“There was discolouration and a burn whenever I used the toilet. It was slight but that lasted for years. I did not tell anyone about this because I was so ashamed.”

The woman, who now has two children, said she felt incomplete and constantly struggles with her relationship with her husband.

“I am angry with women who can enjoy being with a man. They do not know how important it is for relationships or just to feel worthy. I feel like half a woman. They got what they wanted, I did not ever want sex. I still don’t.

“When my husband and I met 13 years ago, I did not tell him about my problem.

“I did not want to sleep with him but I felt I had to. I wanted children and maybe that was selfish. There was no enjoyment during sex because I play back what happened to me 33-years ago.

“We have seen doctors who have advised us but this does not work for me.

“My husband got a job in Pretoria about two years ago and I think he was happy to get away from me. I cannot say that I was unhappy to see him leave.”

The housewife said she wanted people to be aware that female mutilation still happens and that it was not something people shared easily.

“People blame Nigerians and other foreigners for bringing these things to the country. But it was always here. Our own families let us down and in the Xhosa culture, you do not stand up to your elders.  I have relatives who went through the same thing.”

>>  Expect to find the latest trends in Health, Wellness and Beauty in Ballito.

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  AUTHOR
Erica Abrahams
Journalist

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