“Pain that never goes away”

Senior Somali Journalist Ubah Jamal presents hidden stories of FGM in Ethiopia.

Right: Senior Journalist Ubah Jamal

Taking advantage of GMC’s 16 Days of Activism grant, on December 2, Ubah Jamal conducted an interview program named “What do we know about the FGM survivors in the Somali Region?” She interviewed two FGM Survivors called Koos Mohamed and Istaahil Hassan, both Somali mothers living in Jigjiga who shared their story and experiences.

Left: Somali Interviewee Koos Mohamed, FGM Survivor and mother

Koos Mohamed, a 29-year-old Somali mother with two children, described the problems she went through as a result of FGM circumcision as too extensive to summarise in a single interview.

Koos was circumcised by her mother and grandmother when she was seven and she was living in the countryside. She explains how every girl of seven years was circumcised as a long tradition in the local area

After being cut, Koos experienced problems as a child into adulthood, including intense pain during menstruation with days of severe abdominal pain. After marriage and her first birth, she experienced severe complications during delivery where she was forced to have an abortion.

I was unable to give birth for more than two weeks and was on the verge of death because it [the baby] was lying down in the pelvic but due to FGM circumision it was unable to come out.

Koos says she has only been able to have two surviving children, the main reason for this was being subjected to FGM at a young age. Koos said that she was entirely against FGM, and she would not allow her own children to undergo the practice. She implored neighbouring families not to circumcise their daughters and stop FGM. She said finally:

I’m sending a message to every mother who has given birth to a child, do not abuse your child and do not conduct FGM. Let us stop FGM together and fight with all gender based violence against women.

Koos Mohamed: FGM Survivor and mother

Somali Interviewee Istahil Hasan Igaal, FGM survivor and mother.

Istahil Hasan Igaal has three children and lives in Jigiga, and has been suffering from problems from FGM starting from childhood. The results have been chronic infections, abdominal pain, menstrual cycle disorders and urinary infections. Every time she has given birth she risks death from complications and bleeding.

Istahil describes FGM as a pain that never goes away, and that she cannot even sit and rest because of the regular pain..

In general, I’m advising the society to abandon FGM, because it is dangerous to our health and the health of the society, because if a girl is mutilated, the whole society is mutilated, and if a girl is saved, the whole community is saved. 

Istahil Hasan Igaal, FGM survivor and mother.

She said she will keep her own children safe from FGM, and that she is ready to save other children and stand by FGM media campaigners to end the practice in the Somali region.