Thirteen-year-old Fatmata saw one of her friends being cut and was scared it would happen to her. Fatmata’s village in Burkina Faso has abandoned FGM following peer education work by UK aid supported UNICEF and UNFPA Joint Programme.
“I hope my daughter will have good health, and I hope she will do the same for her daughters and avoid cutting,” said Fatmata's mother.
Esther was 8 years old when she was cut. She had to spend a month away from home while she recovered. She had little to eat and hated being separated from her mum.
“We circumcised our girls because we loved them,” said Esther's mother. “It would have been difficult for them to marry if they weren’t cut," she added. Esther’s village have now abandoned FGM following training from a UK aid supported programme. “I would never cut my daughters now I know the consequences,” she said.
Since 1990, Professor Akotiomga Michel has carried out more than 3,000 reversal operations on women who have been cut. The UK government - via the UNICEF and UNFPA Joint Programme - provides the clinic where Professor Michel works with medical kits to carry out the operation.
“FGM has no benefits, only consequences,” said Michel. “Women who have been cut find it difficult to have sex or go to the toilet. The operation takes around 15 to 30 minutes depending on how bad the scarring is and it makes a huge difference to the women’s lives,” he added.
Chief Jean-Clode Bounkoungou has been working hard to get his village to abandon cutting, and his determination is paying off. Next month his community will meet for an official abandonment ceremony and bury the knives that were once used to cut girls.
“FGM has brought only problems for our girls,” he said. “I knew long ago that cutting wasn’t right and none of my daughters were circumcised. But we need to keep on fighting – we mustn't get complacent,” he added.