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A Promise To Her Newborn Daughter: No More Female Genital Mutilation

Jaha Dukureh walks down a travel in Serrekunda, a sprawling civic area where she grew adult in Gambia.

Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise


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Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise

Jaha Dukureh walks down a travel in Serrekunda, a sprawling civic area where she grew adult in Gambia.

Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise

Note: Given a theme this story explores, a contention includes some pithy language.

Jaha Dukureh, now 27, was usually one week aged when a occurrence that came to conclude her life’s goal occurred. That is when, as was a tradition of her home city of Gambissara, Gambia, a normal “cutter” private her clitoris and labia and afterwards sewed a opening together, withdrawal usually a little hole to concede a upsurge of urine and menstrual blood.

Today she knows that she had been subjected to a many impassioned form of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), called infibulation or Type 3 FGM.

Yet Dukureh had no inkling until her matrimony day, during a age of 15, that she numbered among a approximately 200 million women around a universe alive currently who have undergone a procession — one that yields no famous health advantages yet that raises a operation of health risks, from infection and pain to problems removing profound and obstetrical complications during childbirth.

In 2010, that trust compelled her to make a guarantee to her baby daughter, now 7, that she would not theme her to FMG — and would do all she could to finish a use for girls all over a world. To perform that promise, 3 years ago she began with Equality Now and a Guardian journal on an eventually successful debate to anathema FGM in Gambia and founded a non-profit classification Safe Hands for Girls.

Female Genital Mutilation: What It Does To A Woman

NPR spoke to Dukureh as she was scheming to leave for her latest outing to Gambia, along with her 3 children, to pronounce to communities in farming areas around a nation and assistance teach and convince them to stop a practice.

She has been bolstered by a comfortable accepting for Jaha’s Promise, the documentary film that tells a slashing yet eventually moving story of how, in a arise of her ordeals, she remade herself into a successful romantic she is today. “Jaha’s story shows how one lady can make a outrageous disproportion in violation a overpower surrounding womanlike genital mutilation,” says Purna Sen, executive of a process multiplication of U.N. Women.

Last year, Dukureh was on Time Magazine’s list of a 100 many successful people in a world. In March, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark sat beside Dukureh during a film’s universe premiere during a Copenhagen Film Festival in March. This past week, a film, destined by Patrick Farrelly, was screened during a United Nations in New York, and on Saturday had a United Kingdom premiere during a Sheffield Documentary Festival. Additional screenings are being designed during other festivals.

“The film is an advocacy tool” to “raise a form of a issue” of FGM, Dukureh says. “It’s not so many about me yet about a issue. It is a cool requirement to finish a practice” of FGM.

In a film, Dukureh reveals that she usually began training about FGM and how that had altered her physique in maybe a hardest approach possible, on her matrimony night. She now recognizes that her stupidity about what had been finished to her physique was not surprising in her community. “There is a outrageous informative overpower in articulate about these issues,” she says. “It is taboo. So there was no approach we could learn about this flourishing up.”

She did know that her relatives had organised a matrimony for her when she was eight, yet over a rite during home zero altered for her.

By a time she turned 10 or 11, though, she says, “it started to strike me, and we hated a whole idea. It felt really strange” to have been betrothed to a father in another nation whom she didn’t know. Then, during 15, she was sent to New York to start her life as a mom of a male approximately 30 years her comparison whom she’d never met before.

Three girls are on a travel in Banjul, Gambia’s capital.

Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise


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Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise

Three girls are on a travel in Banjul, Gambia’s capital.

Courtesy of Jaha’s Promise

When her father attempted penetration, a pain was “excruciating,” she says. At initial she did not know why. Then, after several days of grueling, catastrophic attempts to unqualified a marriage, in an scary reprise to a strange procedure, a alloy had to cut her open again. Afterwards, he systematic her to have sex within 24 hours in order, he said, to make certain a opening did not tighten again. Sex was now possible; yet a deficiency of passionate genitals still done it anatomically unfit for her to feel passionate pleasure.

Far from home, and still lamentation for her mom who had died usually 3 months before, Dukureh felt unhappy and alone. She attempted desperately to continue her education, yet 10 opposite high schools in period refused to enroll her since she was but relatives or a guardian. Finally, a eleventh pronounced approbation — after she cried in a principal’s office. By then, with a support of Taina Bien-Aime, who afterwards worked for a women’s rights organisation Equality Now, Dukureh had gained a bravery to leave her father and stay with family members.

She shortly divorced her father and changed to Atlanta, where she remarried. This was also an organised marriage. “But a happy one,” she says, to a male who “is some-more my age and is really supportive.” She went to college, began work during a bank where she was fast promoted, and became a mom of 3 children, ages 8, 7 and 3.

“Taina done me trust in myself and done me trust that my life was value living,” Dukureh says. Nonetheless, of her time in New York, Dukureh now says, “I consider it was a many traumatizing experience. “It was a formidable time in my life and we don’t like articulate about it.”

All a some-more impressive, then, is her honesty in revelation her story on film. In Atlanta, she began assembly other women and mothers in her village who had also undergone FGM and began a support group. Soon, with a support of Equality Now, she began a petition on Change.org job for an finish to FGM in a United States. It was sealed by 221,169 people. The film depicts her assembly with former President Barack Obama, Gambia’s boss Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh and former U.N. President Ban Ki-moon.

At once dignified, soft-spoken and firm, Dukureh is also shown in a documentary articulate with men, women, and children in schools and communities via Gambia, as she corrects one parable after another by FGM. No, it is not required to have a procession in sequence to broach a baby; actually, it might means additional complications. Nor is it a eremite training of Islam, notwithstanding a faith that it is, among many Imams — including, until recently, her possess father. At one indicate in a film they are seen deliberating a issue, any one kindly organisation in their hostile opinions. He does, however, guarantee to investigate a emanate further. Eventually he comes to determine that her investigate is correct: It is not an Islamic teaching. That leads to a film’s happy conclusion: Her father’s proclamation that his possess baby child, a girl, will not bear FGM.

Her father, Dukureh told NPR, is “now my biggest cheerleader.” She will see him in Gambia this summer and will continue her debate around a country.

Diane Cole writes for many publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Week, and is book columnist for The Psychotherapy Networker. She is a author of a discourse After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges. Her website is dianejcole.com.