It’s 9 in the morning; the cool breeze of the winter season caresses our tiny sleepy faces. The humming voices of students reciting Qura’an in the yard broke the silence in our classroom. Our 4th Grade teacher walked in holding his black leather bag and announced that today’s class is going to be on ‘Female Genital Mutilation’. Our tiny faces turned red and we looked to the ground in embarrassment. For me, I already knew about that so the class wasn’t very horrifying for me, although I started wondering if my parents told me the truth saying that it no more exists except in rural areas among uneducated people, because the way the teacher was speaking suggested otherwise.
In the recess, I was chatting with my two best friends discussing how cruel the act was, asking her if she believes it can be truly somehow related to religion or protective for girls. I was very furious about the whole thing and didn’t like that our teacher somehow managed to insert religious opinions during the class, for my parents told me that it was an ancient practice that predated the dawn of religion. One of my friends was arguing with me, but the other was too silent even for her calm personality. I didn’t notice until she started sweating and stuttering. Then she spoke it out.
Not only was she mutilated last summer, but she also thinks we should all do it too. Her parents told her that it’s for her good, she argued, and that those who weren’t mutilated were to be “Bad Girls” when they grow up. When she saw the shock on my face despite my attempts to hide it she then started to calm me down saying that there were different types of the process and that she won’t go a doctor and it was almost pain free, that they did it “the right way” and she’s perfectly healthy now, not forgetting to mention the amounts of money they gave her and all the games and candy she bought. At that point I stopped arguing, I had mixed feelings not knowing whether to comfort her and tell her maybe she’s right or express my true feelings of sympathy and sorrow that she was wronged by the people she trusts the most. I didn’t want to hurt her, so we changed the subject and ran to play our foolish games.
But that one memory never left my mind, the embarrassment on her face when she told me, the confusion on mine. I’m not very sure what parents have in mind when they mutilate their own daughters, but when I remember the confusion I felt that day, I can’t even think of the psychological trauma she experienced. Female Genital Mutilation is a horrible act of violence that can never be justified as a cultural or religious tradition. It’s a violation of human rights and will never end unless religious and political leaders condemn it as an act of ignorance and cruelty.