Voices Series: Why we must continue to protect our girls

This blog is part of a series of reflective essays by participants of the Voices to End FGM/C workshops run by Sahiyo and StoryCenter. Through residential and online workshops on digital storytelling, Voices to End FGM/C enables those who have been affected by female genital mutilation/cutting to tell their stories through their own perspectives, in their own words.

By Rhobi Samwelly

I decided to share a story about my experience with female genital mutilation (FGM) because I want people to know who I am, and learn through my touching story. I hope my story will help other girls and bring change to our community. The story reflects the reality of what I passed through and what I felt as a girl and the first born from my family. The story is informing other people to understand the tradition of FGM and its implications. The story keeps me with tears in my eyes every time when sharing with different people.

Sharing my story with the Voices to End FGM/C workshop was the right thing to help other people learn. I was encouraged to be part of the group in order to change our community with this tradition of FGM. I shared with women who’ve gone through painful and traumatic experiences as other FGM survivors. I enjoyed the courage and passion that each of them embraced during the entire time. The storytelling process was smooth and very educational. I was able to revise my own story and put it in a way that I am confident and make a difference to our communities.

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My advocacy on FGM is focused on community education, sharing my story and providing safe houses for girls to be rescued and protected when forced by their families to undergo FGM. I have managed to rescue and protect 1607 girls from FGM and early marriages. Many girls are cut while knowing the effects of FGM, and no one is ready to protect them in their houses during the seasonal cutting. As an activist, I believe that FGM will end when we use the combination of different strategies in the fight against it. 

I know it is the right of each community to uphold their traditions and beliefs, but culture should not violate the rights of girls and young women. I believe I am unique and my story is unique because of the painful experience of nearly dying and feelings that I had during the cutting. I am looking forward to working with various organizations and individuals to see that our girls are free from FGM across the world. I will continue my activism and rescue girls to be protected at the safe houses until FGM will be history. 

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