Posted in chronic pain, health

How do survivors pee after the pain of Female Genital Mutilation?

Image:  Wikipedia  A campaign against female genital mutilation – a road sign near Kapchorwa, Uganda.

**This article may be upsetting for some readers

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Country based surveys on the rates of FGM suggest that 200 million women have undergone the procedures in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen, with a rate of 80–98 percent within the 15–49 age group in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. The practice is also found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and among communities from these areas in other countries.

This article appeared today on BBC Magazine

Some 200 million women and girls across 30 countries have been affected by female genital mutilation (FGM). But how do survivors live with the pain of peeing, periods and childbirth?

“The first time you notice your physicality has changed is your pee,” says Hibo Wardere.

Hibo, now 46, was subjected to what is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “type three” mutilation when she was six. This means all of her labia were cut off and she was then stitched together, leaving a tiny hole she compares to the size of a matchstick.

She grew up in Somalia, where 98% of women and girls between 15 and 49 have had their genitals forcibly mutilated.

“An open wound rubbed with salt or hot chili – it felt like that,” she recalls.

“And then you realize your wee isn’t coming out the way it used to come. It’s coming out as droplets, and every drop was worse than the one before. This takes four or five minutes – and in that four or five minutes, you’re experiencing horrific pain.”

Hibo came to the UK when she was 18, and within months visited a doctor to see if they could relieve the pain she experienced when she passed urine and during her periods.

Her translator didn’t want to interpret her request, but the GP managed to understand.

Eventually, Hibo underwent a procedure called defibulation, when the labia is opened surgically. This widened the hole and exposed her urethra. It is by no means an outright fix, and can never restore sensitive tissue that was removed, but it did make it slightly easier to urinate.

Sex, however, presented a new hurdle. “Even if the doctor has opened you up, what they’ve left you with is a very tiny space,” says Hibo.

“Things that were supposed to be expanding have gone. So the hole that you have is very small and sex is very difficult. You do get pleasures – but it’s once in a blue moon.”

Image: Wikipedia       Female genital mutilation (FGM)

The trauma of the assault also had a bearing on intimate situations with her partner.

“First you have a psychological block because the only thing you associate with that part of you is pain,” says Hibo.

“The other part is the trauma you experienced. So anything that’s happening down there, you never see it as a good thing.”

Figures released by Unicef in February raised the number of estimated FGM survivors by around 70 million to 200 million worldwide, with Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia accounting for half of all victims.

In the UK, FGM has been banned since 2003. Last year the government introduced a new law requiring professionals to report known cases of FGM in under-18s to the police.

Activists and the police have raised awareness about the risk of British school girls being flown out of the UK specifically to be stripped of their genitals during what is known as the “cutting season” over the summer.


Image: Wikipedia     FGM in Africa, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Yemen, as of 2015

Article continues @

Additional source for information: Wikipedia 

Originally posted on my blog


Writer, poet, blogger, advocate of mental illness stigma

21 thoughts on “How do survivors pee after the pain of Female Genital Mutilation?

  1. It is something I learned about very young and has upset me to the core of my being ever since. We live in this world. Where this is done to a CHILD and it is ok. Those children arent protected and will never ever be the same again. Why arent there marches about this. People holding signs. Doing something! I have never understood it. Nor have I understood the statue of limitations on rape being so short. I started a petition that only had less than 100 signatures in florida to extend the statute of limitations so a woman can come forward whenever she is ready. I wish this fight was something everyone jumped on board for. Thanks for your article


    1. I became interested in this traumatic abuse after reading articles in social media. I found this excellent book “The Girl with Three Legs” written by the author and was so shocked and disgusted that a little girl would have to undergo such torture. Here’s the link: In the book, it explains in one part that the little girl believes her mother is taking her into town to buy her a present for her 13th birthday, but instead is heading for the FGM chamber. They perform this procedure with NO anesthetic. I’m at a loss for words.

      Thanks for commenting and more people should be talking about this. Hugs, Deb

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve READ it! It is one of the most horrific descriptions. It really has haunted me, the entire thing. Some girls feel proud as it is a right of passage and they don’t eat or drink for days so they don’t have to urinate and some will die of dehydration, infections. Beyond barbaric. I truly am glad you are bringing awareness. I have written some about it in some of my blogs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And to think, they now have to search for a specialist to repair the damage. This is such a unnecessary ritual, started by a male? Has to be. I can’t see a woman starting this horrible abuse, passed centuries ago. Always the female that is abused and endures this horrific pain. Will ck you blog out. 🙂


      3. It is intermittent throughout my blog in varying posts. I dont have one particular one but i do put in mutilation as many women have had this done to them. A man, gets to chose to cut off and sew closed a vagina. I dont think there is anything more barbaric. The fact that this exists on this planet remains one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard of.
        Something was done to my vagina. We don’t exactly know the extent. But I think that is why it has always resonated so deeply to me. I had some sort of abnormality that was removed as a child and my parents would never tell me truth until just recently 40 years later I remembered. It should have never been done without my consent that I could have made later in life. So yeah. Lots of things resonate with me.
        I recently wrote a poem about this very subject. I don’t title my poetry so you may have to look through but the first line is My vagina is on the witness stand.
        It is about how our vaginas are part of us and they should get a say and they are fighting back. So hopefully you can find that one.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, what despicable abuse. I’m speechless. It’s cathartic to write about it, yet you feel anguish at the same time. When I first wrote about my sexual abuse, I felt like a victim at the time, but that was back in 2007 before years and years of trauma therapy, thank goodness now I can proudly say I’m a warrior survivor. Difficult to come to that thinking, but it’s taken years to heal. Don’t know if you are aware of my other blog (mental illness stigma). Lots of articles on my road to healing. Thanks for sharing. Big hugs. Deb


      5. I just followed your other blog. I didn’t know you had another blog. Thank you for sharing that! i also felt like a victim for many years but nolonger. Sometimes I used the survivor/victim interchangeably because not everyone is where i am right now and i really want to meet people where they are.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hi thanks for following, I’m going to the first post of your blog, you sound a lot like me in some ways, I feel tearful, because I feel your pain. Sometimes I feel so strong, then other times I can crumble just like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the blog, so important. When women like that Madonna scream and shout and are abusive about President Trump, why doesn’t she and all the others do what they should be protesting about FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION. This should be stopped, so those stupid women should be screaming for FGM TO END, never mind the politics. Thanks for that wonderful informing Post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head. This FGM is rarely talked about by the press (perhaps old news?), and hearing about it, I went searching for books on female abuse in nations outside of North America. I came across this excellent book “The Girl with Three Legs” written by the author and was so shocked and disgusted that a little girl would have to undergo such torture. Here’s the link: I read it a few years ago and it has always stuck in my mind. Yes Madonna, you and the other celebrities, forget about Trump and concentrate more on real women’s (abuse) issues!

      Thanks so much for commenting, it means a lot. 🙂


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