Molly Cherotich (not real name) is a wife and mother living in Kapchorwa district, Uganda. She is a woman who was forced into circumcision by her father. A decision that still has her paying its price. She narrates her story as a cautionary tale to young women and girls on the impact Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) had on her and how it shattered her whole life.
Growing up, it was a cultural taboo to enter the institution of marriage uncircumcised. I was only 18 years when my father demanded I get circumcised because he planned on marrying me off to a wealthy stranger from our community. A predetermined decision I had no say in or right to decline but I knew I never wanted to get circumcised. I was left with only one option; rebel! And rebel I did but this only lasted a year. My father continuously harassed me, threatened to disown me and his anger towards me was unbearable. When the next season of circumcision came around, I gave in. A year later, my father begun the preparations for my marriage.
I never got the chance to marry the man I loved then. Instead, I was forced to marry a stranger I knew nothing about. Blinded by the stranger’s wealth, my father soon married me off when the bride price was fully paid. It was then my life began to feel like it was not my own. I was dancing to the tune of someone else. I felt trapped.
Determined to gain back ownership of my life, I decided to abandon my marital home mere months after my marriage. I sought refuge in Bukwo near the Kenya border where I lived with some relatives. My new life begun and several years down the road, I met a man, fell in love and got married. The fairy tale was not long lived. When we had our first child, I had complications at birth that lead to my vagina tearing because of the incision that was done when I was circumcised. It wasn’t elastic enough. This same reason hindered me from meeting my husband’s sexual needs regularly. Conceiving my three children almost felt like rape. The pain was inexplicable. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the pain I experienced during sex and child birth.
During the birth of my third child, I suffered a lot. I thought I was going to die. I had to go to Kapchorwa hospital for delivery. I had to be cut again to give the child passage. The whole healing process took a month but when I returned home and I never had sex with my husband again. The stitches installed after delivery made me more narrow, making sex even more painful. My fear for sex heightened. This created an even bigger rift between him and I to the extent of our disagreement ending up at the LC1 Chairman as a case. The intervention however resolved nothing; my husband failed to understand why I couldn’t sleep with him. It is now been twenty years and I haven’t slept with any man because I still remember the pain I went through. The trauma is still fresh.
Everyone needs to know that it is not a good practice at all, it has no benefits, only damage. During my year of circumcision, one of my friends passed on due to over bleeding. I know that death is real because of circumcision, when you are circumcised, the impacts are for a lifetime. God was not a fool to make women the way they are and to give them that nature. So we need to respect God’s creation and be what he wants us to be. I encourage the young girls to take care of their lives the way God intended. HIV is still a major issue in the communities and not a lot of precaution is taken during the circumcision process. One knife can be used to cut more than one girl and potentially expose her to infection. We should all strive to protect our girls from this harmful practice.