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In the quest to feel like a woman: Reversing FGM through the clitorial restoration surgery

By Soni Kanake | Sunday, May 14th 2017 at 08:46
Waisiko Mandi*, 32, is finally hoping that a clitoral restoration surgery will give her the chance to enjoy a normal sex life. That she will finally have a real intimate relationship and birth children normally. She shares her experience with SONI KANAKE.

I was circumcised when I was about 10-years-old. I come from the Kuria community in Kenya and growing up, it was compulsory to be circumcised. I don't blame anyone for the agony I went through since I took myself to the circumciser. At that moment, I knew it was the right thing to do. Every girl was being circumcised. I remember a neighbour's daughter coming home and bragging to me that now she was a woman, while I was still a little girl.

She warned me of the dire consequences I would face if I went back to school uncircumcised. I remember how everyone would laugh at me and make me sweep the classrooms since I was an outcast. That is when I felt enough was enough! The pressure from everyone was driving me crazy. I had no idea what it entailed but I had to get circumcised.

In my little world, this was the right thing to do. The experience at the traditional circumciser was a different story and I could not understand what my neighbour's daughter was bragging about. The pain I felt was excruciating. I have never felt such pain in my life and I still cannot describe what I felt. The sharp object cutting through my flesh nearly killed me. I was blinded momentarily as I staggered home, blood oozing from my genitals. All I remember is seeing a tall dark woman who was slightly bent from old age. That is the picture I have of the woman who robbed me of my womanhood. I would not recognise her now if she passed in front of me.

Fortunately, I was up and about in two days. I healed fast. I still remember one girl who was bedridden for over four months after her circumcision. She was oozing pus and everyone avoided her because she stank. They gave her antibiotics and luckily she recovered. This incident however, did not deter the community from circumcising the girls.

Act mature

One day I was playing outside when an older woman summoned me and told me that I should stop playing with soil as I was now a woman. She told me that I should now get married. In hindsight, I wonder how a cut was supposed to turn a 10-year-old into a woman. My body was still developing and I had not gotten my first menstrual period, yet I was supposed to be someone's wife?

My agony started when I started dating. The first time I got intimate with my boyfriend was hell on earth. The pain I had experienced during circumcision came flooding back. He dumped me after a while citing that I wasn't a real woman. I remember the emotional pain I felt when he told me that I needed to go figure out what was wrong with me.

Reversal

With time, I realised no man wanted to be intimate with me. I decided to search for a solution. I was lucky to come across Dr Marci Bowers online. She does surgery that reverses the FGM procedure. I established contact. My relief was tremendous when she told me she was coming to Kenya to carry out clitoral restoration surgery. I can't wait to have the surgery and lead a normal life again.

I have done my research on the surgery and I have confidence in Dr Bowers due to the testimonies I have read on the successful surgeries she has performed. I am hoping that I will no longer experience pain during intimacy, which has really been a turn off. Relationships are not fun and I would rather avoid being in one until after the FGM reversal. I hope to have kids one day and I hope I will not go through what other FGM victims have gone through while giving birth. I am also hoping that after the surgery, my scar will be covered up or at least the scar tissue removed. This will ease my emotional pain.

Having checked out the prices in different parts of the world, I am glad that the Sh10,000 Dr Bowers is charging is reasonable and quite affordable. The cost abroad was prohibitive and quite out of reach for me.

However, I am open-minded. I do not want to raise my hopes too high in case it doesn't work for me. I am aware that this, like any other surgery, has risks involved and does not guarantee a 100 per cent success rate. I know the success rate of a clitoral restoration surgery is quite high but what if I fall in the minority? What if I never experience the sexual sensations other people have reported after the surgery? I am not a pessimist. I just don't want to set myself up for disappointment

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