Stacy Moraa* was circumcised at the age of 10. When she later understood the consequences of female circumcision, it not only left her with a perpetual fear of intimacy in marriage but also tore her soul apart and left her feeling less a woman. She is now 27 years old and shares her story with Soni Kanake on her love life before and after a reconstructive surgery:
“Growing up was fun and I remember enjoying my childhood. However, my life changed drastically during my teenage years when I joined Form One. I come from a community that values Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and regards it as a rite of passage. Actually, I was circumcised at the age of 10 while in Standard Five. Though we lived in town, dad took me to the village for the initiation. I had been looking forward to the ceremony and could not wait to be a ‘big girl’.
“My people have embraced this fallacy that an uncircumcised girl is loose and loves men and, therefore, to curb this, they circumcise the girls. Incidentally, I witnessed some of my friends getting pregnant during their teenage years, which dampens the theory that circumcision lowers a woman’s libido. Ironically, it would seem circumcision gave the girls a green light to explore their sexuality as they now felt like grown women, never mind they were barely in their teens. Though young, I still remember the excruciating pain when that sharp razor cut through my body. But that did not matter to me as I was now a ‘woman’ and everyone celebrated me.
LIVING A LIE
“My joy and excitement, however, was short-lived after I joined high school where I got to learn about a campaign against FGM. Wait, had I been living a lie? I went online and starting researching on FGM and that was when it hit me. I had been robbed of the most valuable thing that defined my womanhood and my confidence plummeted. The once happy-go-lucky girl was gone and in her place was a girl plagued by inferiority complex. The set books we read talked about the dangers and consequences of FGM and it dawned on me that what I had been so proud had negative consequences. My online research further revealed that I would never enjoy intimacy and I shut my mind off on an enjoyable marriage.
“I was so sensitive that any story or news on FGM served as a reminder that I was an incomplete woman. Joining university wasn’t any better. It got worse when my classmates asked me if I was circumcised and I was forced to lie. There was no way I was going to make them confirm my inner inferiority status. Worst of all, I could not discuss what I was going through to anyone. I mean, who would understand? What would appear as a normal rite of passage had turned out to be my worst nightmare.
DEAD SEX LIFE
“My first relationship in college did not work out as I was still apprehensive about my sexuality. I later dated a man who is now my husband though deep down, I wasn’t expecting any sexual pleasure in my marriage. I could not bring myself to have the FGM conversation with him and I just let things play themselves out. Luckily for me he is a very polite man and never made me feel uncomfortable or unwanted. However, unknown to him I was living a nightmare. I was scared of getting intimate and our intimate moments were characterised by a lot of anxiety. For me, it was an enduring process as I did not want to lose him.
“Intimacy was a hit or miss affair and I was never sure which way it would go. I knew as a woman I would either experience a clitoral or vaginal orgasm though I had already ruled out the former. My sex life was as dead as a dodo and I was only in the prime of my youth and newly married. I detested my father for taking me for FGM. I went online in search of answers. Was there anything out there that would remedy my situation? I remember coming across a product that promised to lengthen the clitoris but dismissed it when the side effects included facial hair and a deep voice. I had enough problems as it were.
BRAND NEW WOMAN
“Salvation came one evening as I watched TV and there was a feature of an American doctor, who was visiting Kenya and was offering FGM reversal. I followed up and met Dr Abdullahi Adan, a plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon at Karen Hospital, who was doing the surgery locally. He said I had Type 1 FGM (He explained to me that there were four types of FGM graded according to their severity from Type 1 to Type 4). Luckily, my husband paid the Sh150,000 that was required for the 45 minutes operation and after six weeks, I had healed.
I felt like a brand-new woman and like a part of me had been restored. I felt happy, relaxed, confidence and most importantly, I experienced an emotional healing, and for the first time in my sex life, I experienced pleasure. I experienced a clitoral orgasm. My sex life has improved and I no longer endure intimacy. My husband, a man of few words said to me, “It’s a good thing you went for the surgery.”
“It’s now three months post operation and I can now enjoy a good night’s rest. I, however, cannot share the good news with my family but have told my younger sister who is keen on undergoing the surgery. I wish my people and other communities that subject girls to FGM would know how agonising it is. I would never subject my daughters (when I get them) to circumcision.
*not her real name