Oumou Traore's Blog

A Life After Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation is a horrific, cruel and painful event that happens in parts of the world where women and girls are oppressed. In Mali, the place where I was circumcised in order to be accepted as a member of my tribe, the society mindset is that circumcising girls in childhood prevents them from becoming promiscuous as adults.

As a result of that belief system, people in that part of the world impose circumcision on girls in order to control their future sexuality.  They believe that girls are to be tamed during childhood so that in adulthood, they can become submissive to their husbands. Being biddable is considered the trait or characteristic of good wives.

In another word, according to them a girl’s only purpose in life is to become someone’s good wife.  The definition of a good wife, according to them, is someone who abides to her husband’s desires while having no sexual desires of her own because circumcision prevents women from enjoying sex.  

To make sure that girls remain oppressed, they are denied education. Most girls do not attend schools which make it easier to force them into unwanted marriage at a young age - to men that are already married and much older than they are with wives and children of their own.

In my own situation, I was not given any explanation for the genital mutilation. I was just told that it was good for me. Nothing more. Nothing less. But as I grew older, I realized that the only reason for the female circumcision was to please girls’ future husbands within the society.

For example, in my childhood, I observed many young girls becoming wives to much older men. At times, their husbands were two or three times their ages and were already married with children as old as their teenage wives because polygamy is also part of the culture and there is nothing wrong with men marrying as many wives as they can afford.

For most circumcised women, marriage is unbearable; it is both emotionally and physically agonizing. On one hand, having sex is painful and intolerable. And on the other, they are forced into loveless situations in which the husbands are the only one happy with the outcomes.  

Genital mutilation is intended to scare girls in their lifetime.   In childhood, they are circumcised; in adulthood they are forced to marry someone they don’t like and the most painful thing about that is they are brainwashed to believe that the best they can ever become in life is to be someone’s wife.  

Most women in that society live and die without knowing or enjoying their lives.  I hope that writing my story will help others understand what women experience as a result of oppression and lack of education because without education, they accept genital mutilation as a way of life and die in misery. I wrote Bully Mother to let those women know that it is possible to have a better life after circumcision.

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