April 15, 2010
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.