Fadumo is a sixty-seven years old former FGM practitioner. She lives in the State House IDP with her family. She began performing Female Genital Mutilation on young girls about 29 years ago. Fadumo, whose family is very poor, has never had the opportunity of education and is illiterate. Given her circumstances, and her lack of education and other employable skills, Fadumo turned to the only trade she knew, FGM, to earn a living for herself and her family.
“I started practicing FGM about 29 years ago to financially support my family. I did not have any other skill to work and therefore performing FGM was my only choice.” Said Fadumo.
Fadumo, like many Somalis of older generations, held a strong belief in the FGM custom which was seen as a protection to prevent girls from having any sexual relations before marriage, and thus in conservative and under-educated Somali societies, this inhumane act was seen as a necessary procedure to prepare a young girl for marriage. This traumatizing experience for such young children (FGM is usually performed on girls between the age of 6 years to 12 years) was accepted to be essential for the protection of the little girl’s purity but even more importantly it was done for guarding the dignity of her family in a patriarchal society without giving any consideration the harm it does to the child victim.
Last year, Fadumo participated in a Child Protection Awareness Session after some of the women community leaders in the community encouraged her to join the ongoing sessions in her IDP. After that first session, Fadumo has begun to regularly attend Community Conversation Enhancement (CCE) sessions and she has become an active member of the IDPs CCE program. Community Conversation Enhancement (CCE) and CCE is an approach that ensures that women/men and girls/boys themselves identify key child protection issues in their communities through participatory community dialogues, awareness-raising sessions, and child-led research.
Over time, she started to share her long experience about the practice which has proven very instrumental in helping the other members in the community understand more about the FGM practice and many of the factors that have helped sustain this practice for so long.
Explaining how this practice happens and the obvious changes regarding the attitudes of the parents when it comes to FGM on their children in recent years Fadumo said “Act is usually carried out secretly without the knowledge of the relatives and the community. In recent years, we have been observing changes in the attitudes of the community and they have been becoming increasingly opposed to the practice. Community leaders and organizations have played an important in setting the people against FGM.”
Fadumo explains how she learned about the harmful consequences of the FGM from the Child Protection Awareness Sessions YOVENCO holds in her IDP, “A lot of the community members are hostile to the FGM practitioners these days. After I come across these kinds of resistance, I was curious as to the reason why this was happening and some of the community leaders told me that I can attend a child protection session to learn more about the harmful consequences of this practice. Once I learned about the numerous harms this does to the victims, I decided to give it up.”
Despite deciding to give up performing FGM, Fadumo and her family still lived in the same financial difficulties that have propelled her to get into this profession. Luckily, a women association in the IDP that supports and creates jobs for the vulnerable women in their community decided to employ Fadumo as a water seller. She sells water now and although she still lives in poverty, she is able to support her family’s basic needs.
Fadumo is vehemently against Female Genital Mutilation and She champions the Anti-FGM causes in her community oftentimes serving as a guest lecture in the CCE sessions. Moreover, she takes an active leadership role in the Anti-FGM campaigns conducted in her IDP; as a speaker, she powerfully shares her own personal story and transition from FGM practitioners to Anti-FGM activist.
“As a former practitioner, I believe it’s my responsibility to add my voice to the Anti-FGM campaign.” Said Fadumo in a regretful tone but she also has the hope that things will change for the better for the present and future generations with the campaigns against FGM to which she is part of now.