Hearing Women’s Voices 1

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“I have been in Australia for over 10 years. I have done primary school here, high school here and now I am in Uni. I have a very large family and most of my experiences are like just Australian. I don’t remember much about my Somali life. I study business and hopefully one day I will get a job in one of them big companies.

When I was circumcised, I think I was about five. First it happened to my sisters, everyone was excited about it and I’m like, I was jealous, I was like, everyone was getting what they want, I could not wait until it was done for me. It was done and it was painful. I didn’t really understand what was happening. I just knew something exciting was happening and not the reason or whatever. It’s like getting your ears pierced pretty much. Well, I was on like a bed, and my mum was there and like a couple other people. I’m trying to remember, the lady had like a needle and just like a little slice and yeah. I don’t remember…I was like crying and fighting and everyone was holding your legs and hands down and they are like “it will be over soon.” And you just cry, cry, cry and wipe your tears and yeah pretty much. You realise it’s happening when it happens. It’s a shock, the thing is painful. When you hear people getting it done and you hear them crying and stuff you get a little scared obviously because of pain and stuff and you don’t know what to expect. You get angry, like why would my parents hurt me, why would people hurt, what’s good about it? It just happens.

I had the suni/suna or what they called it. There are two versions, like the extreme where whey cut a lot of stuff and stitch you up real bad. This one is like they prick you a bit, cut a little bit and make you bleed and like fix it up. Depending on what you have I guess, is how strongly you feel about it and how it affects you. Yeah, I never really think about it. It’s just normal because I never experienced anything else other than that so it’s part of life.

Culturally, like from what I hear from my mum, aunties and that, fgm is done to women because it’s part of womanhood, it preserves your virginity. I don’t even know the real reason when I think about it, like culturally, it’s a thing that everybody does, like you have to fit in to do it, you’re not considered part of society and you’re frowned upon if you don’t do it. Like “she is not circumcised, she is a slut” pretty much. This is like generations and generations and generations and so is just a norm in Africa and Somalia.

The circumcision has really no impact on my life so far. It’s probably because of the different society I live in. I don’t know, like everyone can be different and still the same. And you are not judged on it and no one really talks about it. It’s not like over in Africa, in Somalia they will talk about it and be like if you have it you’re a woman, but here, being a woman means different things. I’m ok with it, like it doesn’t feel any different, I think I’m just meant to be normal like this so…

When it comes to marriage and children, I feel normal about it. Just like everybody else, I am excited to get married, excited to have my own family. I don’t know, I am not afraid of sex or whatever. I think it’s just normal. If when I get close to those things and I feel any issues about it, any nervousness or anything, I know that I can go to a doctor and get it reversed. I don’t feel much thing about it because my aunties, my older sisters, everybody had it done and they experienced it and it’s turned out good for them, pretty much. They got married in Somalia, they had kids in Somalia and without any of the medical attention and stuff. I am just thinking like I got one extra thing. It’s a bright outlook. I don’t have any bad feelings towards it. Going to a doctor and getting circumcision reversed, I haven’t really considered it. I hear about it and like options available from my friends talk and stuff. I have not really researched on it or much, I just know that it’s an option. I do not consider fgm for my kids because it’s not relevant so what’s the point. It’s not achieving anything so it does not need to be done.”

This story is from Breaking the chains, FPQ (True) Audio CD.