Trigger warning / “A Part of Me” campaign:
This story could contain potentially sensitive and/or triggering material, especially for victims of female genital mutilation. Please remember to check in with yourself as you read and to stop reading if it gets too overwhelming.
We visit our relatives every summer,
In a small town in Sharqia,
And spend two weeks with them.
That was my favorite time of the year.
We were there as usual one summer,
When I was 7 or 8 years old.
I was enjoying my time with girls and boys who were older than me.
I was playing with a girl one day in her bedroom.
She was older than me,
When my mother came in.
She took the girl, saying,
“She’s going to get a shot.
You’re not allowed to leave this room.
If you come out of the room,
You’ll get a shot too.”
I could feel that something strange was happening.
I didn’t get why I wasn’t allowed to leave the room.
My curiosity made me go outside.
There were a lot of women of different ages on the stairs,
And everywhere else.
They were all gathered in front of a specific room.
I was terrified.
I didn’t know what was happening.
Then, a tall, chubby man came out,
Carrying the older girl’s sister.
She wasn’t wearing any pants,
And she was bandaged up.
The other girl,
The one who was playing with me,
Silently went in with her grandmother.
One of the girls who was standing on the stairs told me.
I started crying.
I didn’t even understand what was going on.
I didn’t know where to escape.
I didn’t know what to do.
When no one was watching,
I ran out into the garden.
I wanted to run away.
But I froze.
I couldn’t move.
I burst into tears.
My mother showed up,
And hugged me.
She tried to calm me down.
“The doctor left,” she told me.
“Let’s go back inside,” she said.
She tried to take me back,
But I refused to go.
I didn’t get why she insisted on going back to the house.
I didn’t want to go,
But she didn’t give me a chance.
The door was open when we went back in.
The doctor and his assistant were sitting down,
They were waiting.
When I saw them,
I tried to run away.
But she held onto me tightly.
Then I was suddenly in that same room,
With a lot of women,
Who were hitting me,
So I’d take off my pants.
I was screaming at the top of my lungs.
I refused to do as they said.
I didn’t know where my mother was.
They got their way in the end,
And laid me down on the floor.
My friend’s grandmother was there,
As well as the doctor,
And the nurse.
They made me lie down in a weird position,
With my hand between my legs,
As they held onto my hand from the opposite side.
I was restrained.
I couldn’t move.
All I remember from that moment on,
Was the doctor saying,
But her mother will be upset.”
I don’t remember anything else,
Except the pain.
That same man then carried me,
And put me down on the bed,
Beside the other two girls.
We were lying there like slaughtered animals.
I was overwhelmed with feelings of betrayal,
I felt responsible,
Because if I had listened to my mother’s instructions,
And hadn’t come out of the room,
This wouldn’t have happened.
I felt betrayed.
I hated my mother,
Because she was supposed to protect and rescue me,
Not abandon and stifle me.
This happened many years ago,
But its effects are still present.
I have the same dream every day;
That I have a new body.
A complete one.
I dream that I’ve changed.
My life is at a standstill,
Because I’m waiting for a miracle to happen,
I’m waiting to become a different person.
I know it’s impossible,
But my mind refuses to give up on the idea.