CNN’s Nima Elbagir gained exclusive access to a mother and daughter in Nairobi Kenya who are backstreet “cutters” – secret practitioners of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity, Hawa and Fatima (not their real names) explained how they carry out their grisly – and now illegal in Kenya – trade using a razor blade and a bottle of alcohol.
The girls are blindfolded and held down on a plastic sheet by as many as five women. Girls as young as eight are brought to be mutilated, in the name of female circumcision. The women say their neighbours all know that they are FGM practitioners, and insist that female circumcision is a cultural norm in their community.
It isn’t only local girls who find themselves at the mercy of the pair’s razor blades – British girls with family ties to Kenya are also brought here during the school holidays. Fatima told CNN that she and her mother see themselves as the enforcers of a moral code, on behalf of the whole community.
Sections of transcript:
Fatima: “It is important, because when girls don’t get cut when they are young, they go after boys while they are still young and we don’t want that. We don’t want them to get spoiled, that’s why we do it.”
“We sit down the girl, someone blindfolds her and lays her on the ground, then we cut, we cut three times, then you put the [alcohol], you … pour it on the wound; the [alcohol] is a bit painful but it stops the bleeding.”
“You tie the legs … this way, a traditional way, then you lay her down and cover her up with a blanket and give her some hot tea — she should not be exposed to cold or feel cold. We clean up the wound every morning with the ethanol spirit, then after two weeks we untie [her] and see whether the wound is healed, and allow her to walk around the house a little bit.
By the third week she should be fine but not do lots of activities, till it is one month and then she would be fine and good to go back to her daily routine.”
“We blindfold them and put hands over their mouths, they don’t even scream because if they do, their age mates will despise them. So they hold it back and endure the pain, they can’t make noise because of what other girls might think of them.”
See video here