The night I was introduced to torture and pain not meant for anyone, especially a child — August 1st, 1984.
A week prior, my step mother and father called me and my older sister into the dining room to have a talk. They told us we were going away “to be made into women.” I was eleven and my sister was thirteen.
We didn’t protest much — we couldn’t, actually. Papa and our step mum had spoken, and we had to do what we were told. My mum, who is Creole and not part of this demonic and gruesome society, didn’t come to our aid and I wondered why. Three decades later, I learned that Papa asked for her permission, but she “didn’t care.” I asked her, but she said it’s not true. Papa never discussed that issue with her…
A week after this “talk,” we packed a suitcase and headed for camp death. When we arrived, we were greeted by about a dozen women who sang traditional songs. My sister and I were instructed to go into the hut and take our clothes off, which we did. We were then told to sit under a tree while they prepared the ritual bed. After what seemed like eternity, my sister was led to the bed while I was given strict warnings not to look back.
Minutes later, my sister joined me under the tree covered in blood. Before I could ask why, I was led to the ritual bed, blindfolded, hands tied behind my back. I was forced to lie on my back. About four women spread my legs wide open and pinned them to the ground while another, the cutter, three times my size, sat on my chest. She was then handed the weapon of death and proceeded to amputating my clitoris all in the name of tradition.
I fought, cried, shouted, and pleaded for someone to stop them as she butchered my clitoris and labia minora. Realizing help will not come, I pulled myself forward with the little strength left in me and bit her bum because she was naked. I was gagged thereafter and more women joined in to pin me to the ground as they brutally snatched my childhood from me…thirty-five years later, I still suffer from PTSD.
After the amputation, covered in blood, I was led to join my sister under the tree. We didn’t say a word to one another and didn’t discuss what happened to us, not until about twenty years later. Papa had actually paid these witches to mutilate and torture us for life. And as they sang and continued to drink and offered prayers to their gods, my sister and I wondered why this was done to us. We were told that it was a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood, but we didn’t receive any “trainings” on womanhood. Basically, mutilating girls is just an opportunity for these women to earn money and celebrate Satan.
No explanation was given as to why they did what they did. No one told us why we had to get up at midnight a few nights to participate in demonic activities — naked. No one told us why we had to jump a corpse like looking thing in the middle of the night (naked). But they did tell us this: that our stomachs will swell, and we’ll die agonizing deaths if we ever shared any of what happened to us in that bush. Well, me being the rebellious child I was, guess what I did when we returned to school? You are correct! And guess what? I’m still alive.
Having a parent lie to you, strange women pin you down and spread your legs wide open, having another woman sit on your chest while you gasp for air, and having that same woman brutally take from you something God gave you for a reason, while others sang and shouted to drown your cry for help to me is the worst form of sexual violence. I have been raped as well, so I know how the two feel.
A call to action:
There are 16 States with no laws against the practice of FGM. In these United States, about 513,000 women and girls have either undergone or at risk of FGM (according to the CDC). Let us raise our voice and protect girls born on American soil (citizens) from this very harmful and dangerous practice.
Please reach out to your elected officials especially if you’re in one of these States and let your voice be heard.
Washington State, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Indiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Maine Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Hawaii.
To read more about my story, get a copy of “Distant Sunrise — The Strength in her Pain to Forgive” (autobiography) on Amazon.
To learn about clitoral reconstruction surgery — visit my YouTube Channel (F.A. Cole) and follow my journey.
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