Repeating the lies

I read this article in the Guardian today and although it’s not the first time I’ve read about female genital mutilation (FGM, also referred to as ‘cutting’) this is the first time I decided to say something about it…

This is not something I have been through myself. My first ‘real’ experience of FGM was someone telling me about it in detail when I was at university. I knew little to nothing of this practice before then. At the time, I wrote a poem about it and that poem has been sitting with a pile of other stuff I wrote at the time, with which I did nothing. Something about it doesn’t feel quite right – like, am I qualified to talk about this not having been through it myself? But then I thought, I wrote it for a reason… It was to try and understand why so meany women continue with this practice when it is so obviously such a horrific ordeal to go through, let alone put your child through. So here it is (feedback – all kinds – welcome as always):

Repeating the lies

She looked up at her mother with innocent eyes
For at just eight years old, she was still just a child.
Her mother had just repeated the lies
That they had told her before she died inside
And now her baby’s about to have her womanhood defiled

They told her that she had come of age
And that this was part of an ancient tradition
That she should look forward to this the next page
They didn’t tell her with what she would have to trade
They never really asked her permission

It wasn’t that she didn’t feel her daughter’s pain
When you became a woman, this just had to be done
When she was a child it had been the same
If it hadn’t she would have bought shame
That’s why when she fell pregnant she had prayed for a son

So she let them take her daughter’s womanhood and even more besides
As they said this made her the kind of woman a man would want for his wife
These were the words that penetrated her cries
And so she too decided to believe the lies
Rather than admit that they had been closer to taking her life

It’s now several years on and her belly starts to swell
She already feels a bond that’s strong and true
She prays not to have a daughter as well
For she knows the pain of the lies she’ll have to tell
When it’s time for her to become a woman too.

10 responses to “Repeating the lies

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making people aware of suffering in the world, and you did it in a beautiful way.

  2. I have always been baffled by traditions like these. I like your poem. To me it highlights that those who live by these rites of passage, are also baffled by what is expected of them.

  3. I am overcome with sadness for the issue of FGM. Thank-you Rachael for finding out your poem to help raise awareness on this topic.

    • Thank you Christy. I am glad I posted it in the end, as I said, I wasn’t sure about it but felt it might be the right time to share it. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to make this decision myself and I’m glad it’s not something I have first-hand experience of but this is how I try to understand it, to some extent.

  4. Laura Hedgecock

    I love this. Part of the beauty if your effort to walk in their shoes!
    Laura Hedgecock
    @LauraLHedgeock on twitter.

  5. This one is beautiful. Really painful and sad to read but it’s so powerful. & The rhyme scheme really works well.

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