Martha (not real name) fell in love with a young man, John (not real name). They both had just graduated from school. Everyone loved the couple; it felt like a relation made in heaven. Their love blossomed and soon talks about marriage popped up. Martha and her fiancé decided to tie the knot and their families began the wedding preparation in earnest. Everyone looked forward to a memorable day.
It was a bright and sunny morning. Jubilation was in the air. The wedding guests who had come from the community and nearby cities bustled with laughter and jesting filled the atmosphere. Other young ladies were teased to hurry and invite them for their own celebration.
The groom was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to take the vows with the love of his life. He waited at the altar smiling and waiting to catch a glimpse of his beautiful bride in her cutely sewn wedding gown. A gloomy face emerged and ran to the altar towards the groom… everyone wondered, the news soon filtered around, “Martha, the bride to be had run away”.
It looked like a scene from the movie, “Runaway Bride”, as I listened to this story but no it was a true life‘s experience.
Why did Martha run on the day she had looked forward to all her life? She ran because she couldn’t face John. She had a secret… “Her vagina was covered with keloid”. Martha is one of many girls who gets cut on their vagina when they attain puberty. The flesh around her vagina had been cut and it formed a big scared tissue. She was ashamed, she was afraid to let John see that ugly overgrown scared tissue, now formed keloid on her vagina.
What this means for Martha/How Keloid in the vagina can affect a person’s wellbeing and life:
- Scar which grows excessively into Keloid tissue can be embarrassing to the individual; create uneasiness.
- Affects the person psychologically as she might feel less beautiful about herself.
- Keloid tissue scar makes the skin around the area it occupies less elastic which can affect certain nerves causing pain.
- Martha is likely to experience itching and pain during urination, menstrual flow and sex.
- Would her husband/partner be willing to accept her as she is. He might be turned off sexually and this will not do their relationship any good.
- She might need a cosmetic surgery and the process of treating Keloid might be a long journey. That is the swollen tissue every clears completely.
This is one of the heartbreaking stories i came away with from a radio drama script writing workshop on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) organized by Unicef in partnership with the Ministry of information Nigeria. It was an eye-opening experience.
You know sometimes we think that we know so much about a subject or issue simply because it’s a familiar subject. I am very familiar with and have lend my voice to creating awareness about the effect of female circumcision known as female genital mutilation /cutting in the past. But statistics and real life stories told by facilitators and other participants showed that the consequences of female genitalmutilation/cutting is far deeper and grave than i thought.
One thing is clear that a lot still needs to be done about changing perceptions and achieving behavioral change towards the practice of Female genital mutilation/cutting.
Many women and families suffer great consequences long after the female genitalia cutting. #EndFGM/C
Why is this tradition and practice still been upheld in many communities around the world?
Some people have replaced genital cutting with another practice and they justify it. What is the new trend?
I will be sharing more stories from FGM/C world in a series of posts.
Photo Credit: DHgate.com – Wedding Veil Cathedral Thick Lace Manthila bridal veil.