Memories of my circumcision have haunted me to date

Saturday Nation

Africa
April 15, 2010

File | NATION Nominated Member of Parliament Sophia Abdi Noor was barely eight years old when her mother ‘blessed’ her to undergo the rite of passage that would cleanse her and make her acceptable for marriage according to tradition. The ordeal she underwent and the consequences made her launch a campaign against the female cut.

File | NATION Nominated Member of Parliament Sophia Abdi Noor was barely eight years old when her mother ‘blessed’ her to undergo the rite of passage that would cleanse her and make her acceptable for marriage according to tradition. The ordeal she underwent and the consequences made her launch a campaign against the female cut.

Nominated MP Sophia Abdi Noor tends to speak forcefully on most issues she is concerned about. But when she rose to contribute on the Bill to outlaw female circumcision in Parliament last week, her voice dropped as the House went silent.

It was perhaps the first time an MP was giving a deeply personal story which contributing to debate.

Female circumcision, said Sophia, was the cause of a harrowing experience during menstruation, her first sexual experience, and the eventual childbirth.

This, she said, is the driving force behind her passionate fight against the practice, which Parliament now seeks to outlaw with the Bill sponsored by Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi.

She was barely eight years old when together with seven of her agemates, she was handed over to a traditional circumciser who took them through the painful process of the cut. It has been many years since, and she has accomplished so much in life, but the incident remains fresh in her mind.

The old woman who took them through the process was going blind, she says,  and three of the eight who underwent the operation died due to excessive bleeding. One of them was her very close friend.

Luckily for her, the bleeding was not too much and she had a saviour at hand. Her father, who was a policeman, took her to a hospital in Garissa using a police Land Rover.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.