'Why did they cut you when you didn't pose a threat to anyone? Why did they deny me sexual pleasure by getting rid of you?'
Awa (not her real name) underwent Female genital cutting (FGC) when she was a child and now writes a letter to her clitoris to come to terms with what has happened.
Dear departed clitoris,
I am writing you this letter to tell you how much I miss you. I know you must be surprised because they cut you off when I didn't even know who you were. I was too young to have any memories of you.
I was only a month old when my grandmother took me to Ami Kanté, the butcher, the portly woman, who probably lost her heart because she cut so many girls, young and old, in villages and cities. I will always wonder what my grandmother gave her to separate us forever
The pain still haunts me
I tell myself that you must have memories of that horrible day, too. Do you still have a breath of life in you? I still feel the loss, a huge emptiness. And that is so painful. It reminds me that you were there and that the women who should have protected me from pain and agony put me in the hands of that woman. You must wonder how I manage to keep the memory of that horrible day alive.
I have tried to understand why those women could cut such an intimate part of me. I used to make my fingers touch the spot. The spot where you used to be. They don't feel anything, just the ever-present wound.
Sex is a marital obligation
You must wonder what sex feels like without you. Well, I feel nothing. Nada! I never felt anything at all. It was as if I were numbed by the pain I have felt.
I got married, had five children, and delivered them without any problems. My kids are beautiful and in good health. Their father is a loving man and takes his role as a husband very seriously.
But he definitely must know that I'm not interested in sex. For me, sex is nothing more than a marital obligation. But my husband adores it. Could it actually be anything different? Do other women experience other sensations when they have sex? Hmmm. I don't know.
Why were you a threat?
I shouldn't ask you that question because you didn't have an easy life either. In fact, you didn't have a life because the witches robbed me of you, seared my nerves, and turned me into this person who only looks back at life without any enthusiasm whatsoever.
Poor you. You probably tell yourself that I'm out of line. You haven't even had a life.
I'm so sorry that I have to send you this letter to do some soul-searching. It's so easy to decide to cut a clitoris in this country. It must be seen as a threat. But the men's genitalia is much more dangerous. They rape, make young girls pregnant and die when they are only children, sleep with sex workers and passe STDs from one woman to another.
Dear clitoris, I'm not sad. I have experienced pleasures without you... other pleasures. I have had satisfaction, like not having a baby girl who I would have also had to cut. And for boys, it's different. That was my husband's job, and I have to admit that the wounds feel different. They heal much more quickly. The foreskin they remove is just a bit of skin that they are anxious to remove. It's different.
Would I be different if you were still here?
I've turned 50 and I can't stop asking myself: would I have become this expressionless person who is sexually dead? Is it possible to rediscover feelings after that operation?
I hope that life is not too hard for you, wherever you may be.
You are not alone. All those organs which were cut off for hypocritical reasons are together with you, and I know that new ones join you every day.
I don't really know how to end this letter.
See you soon? Even though I know we will never see each other again.
Bye-bye? We will never meet again.
Farewell? We will never meet again.
That might be right.
Farewell to that oh so precious part of my sexual being
I know that I will never see you again.
This article was originally published by Benbere and has been translated and re-published with their permission.