For many girls, female genital mutilation (FGM) is an inevitability. Youth For Change Tanzania's Upendo tells the story* of a young girl who gave up everything to escape FGM...
It started like a joke but, in reality it came. My mother and grandmother always speak proudly about it, seasons to seasons, my neighbors and relatives underwent it it. I was so shocked and I didn’t believe what they told me. My lovely teacher spoke about it every day. She said it’s violence against human rights, she spoke so emotionally about it. She herself was a victim of the painful and unethical act - female genital mutilation.
I asked my Mama...
She looked at me so gently and bravely
Out of nowhere my father jumped in to join our discussion;
My mother jumped up and celebrated loudly.
My mother replied:
The cutting ceremony was the topic of the town, everyone was speaking about it. I was so uncomfortable with the environment. On my way to school I met my best friend Rita, and she was so sad too.
We discussed the impacts of FGM. Even though there are so many I could remember only one - and that was death. I was so afraid, the day was so long, in class I couldn’t even understand, contribute or comment. After classes Rita followed me and whispered in my ear
We talked to our matron - she was so sad and she told us that we should talk to our parents about the impacts and bring her the feedback tomorrow. She provided us small book that comprised important information and an address where we can report the matter. A quick idea jumped into my mind. I told Rita
Rita was so shocked,:
I stole some few notes in my Mama’s pot, I put a few clothes, a bottle of water, and almost a kilo of groundnuts in a plastic bag. It was almost 1pm, only two days left for the big day when I made my rational and dangerous move. The journey was so tough and dangerous but, only I could think and see either grave or a doctor’s white gown.
It’s been 3 years now and I am living at the center. I miss my Mama, father, sisters and Rita. I don’t know what’s going on at home, but I can’t go back because I know they will cut me. I can't go back without a Doctor's white gown.
*This is a fictionalised account of a young girls escape from FGM in Tanzania