KALTUN AHMED EGAL is a mother of 3 girls and 6 boys; she was born and bred in Berbera-Sahil. She is a housewife living with her husband who is a casual labourer.
Unfortunate Girl she was…
Kaltun is a survivor of severe Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She recalled the pain she had to go through as a child when she had undergone the cutting. Though it was 30 years ago, but the pain she experienced is still fresh in her mind.
She narrates the horrific experience she witnessed as a young girl.
“I was 7 years old when my mother convinced me to go for genital cutting. She talked positively about it. For me, I had no problem at first, it was a tradition that been practiced for many years.” She says opening her story.
“I wouldn’t have been able to socialize or have friends if I wasn’t cut. It was considered a disgrace and people would gossip if a nurse wasn’t called to the house for opening the stitching after a woman gets married or for child birth.”
Kaltun was on her school holidays, when Kaltun and group of young girls, were taken to Xaliimo Dhagax– to be cut. Dhagax- a tall and strong lady- was well-known among the girls of the
ir neighbourhood. She was the “one” in charge of cutting in their area. The lady came with her traditional tools including the knife and rope.
When Dhagax came to Kaltun’s home, Kaltun was pinned onto the table to cut her private parts, while her mother and neighbouring ladies looked on, holding her hands. But, to add insult to an injury, the lady had no gloves and her instruments were not sterilized. “She attended to me with her bare of hands” Kaltun recalls
Kaltun, now 40, still clearly remembers what was done to her when she was seven. “I cried with pain but nobody ever felt for me. I could see my blood coming out.” said Kaltun.
Asked about the extent of her mutilation, she said: “Urine was difficult to me. Sometimes it would take a long and cause a lot of pain. My Family felt sorry about the deterioration of my situation, though they firstly urged me just to bear it.” Kaltun was eventually taken to a traditional healer, but unfortunately she simply said to her family “Your daughter will die soon!
“I was in a serious coma for three days. When I came back, I just saw my mother and aunties on my side, but they were shouting and yelling. I was so weak and anaemic and could not see anything. Everything seemed black!”
“The Sheikh was called to our home and he recited Quran on me – a practice conducted when a person is in a serious illness and is in a terrible need to get well. I did gradually recover but even for ten more days, I could not stand by my own feet. This created problems between my mother and father.”
Because the first cutting was not successful, it caused her to suffer from even deeper problems. She was then taken to her aunt’s home and re-cut her. This time round, she also suffered.
“When I got married, a nurse was called to open me; I was so embarrassed in front of my husband. I hated being vaginally examined; it was my worst nightmare”
“Imagine a girl that had not opened for more than fifteen years!” She desperately describes her condition.
During her first delivery at home, she developed a prolonged labour for four days, she also developed kidney problems and was bedridden for six months.
“My husband could not understand my problems until he later realized it was due to the cutting, cutting that caused all these problems. He felt sorry for everything had gone so badly. I still have urinatings and sometimes feel extremely weak.”
She does not eat much now. She worries that if she eats more she will give birth to a heavy baby which will in turn cause more problems for delivery.
…HPA’s Action intervened her life.
Kaltun is personally touched by the evils of Female Genital Cutting. She has been educated through Health Poverty Action’s Saxansaxo* Radio programme (NB: for more details see the SIDE STORY). She always attends lively drama outreaches on which normally focus on maternal health issues like FGC.
Kaltun though she delivered her first two children at home, would not now do so and attends the health centre, supported by HPA. At the health centre, HPA has established health Education to sensitize mothers and their children about the negative impacts of FGC.
Kaltun attended audience group trainings many times as well as community conversations in which she learned a lot about FGC. As she participates more in these education activities she learns more about the medical issues and lack of religious sanction associated with FGC.
Her daughters are safe and sound…
So far, Kaltun’s exposure on FGC and the work by HPA, has impacted her and the life of her daughters. She is more educated and more alert of the problems with FGC. Kaltun has decided not to allow her daughters to go through this horrific experience.
“…None of my daughters were cut. I will never allow my girls to be circumcised inhumanly and go through my unending sufferings.” She decisively ended her remarks.
She no longer has a respect for the need for, and belief in, FGC! The same beliefs, she feels put her life at risk. She believes that FGC is an unending disaster to humanity, which must be stopped!