No matter what kind of Female Genital Cut you have endured - FGC cuts our ability to speak for ourselves. It shatters our voices and holds us hostage inside our own bodies. Suffering silently. Enduring agony silently. We do not mention how our vaginas feel. We are taught this is taboo. We will bring shame to our families and our communities.

I have found healing to be like an onion - with each layer that is peeled away, another layer reveals itself.

I longed for years to be held and comforted and was aware of feeling this loss. The loss of being comforted. In many of our communities, there is no comfort shown because we are supposed to toughen up - And such comfort is not encouraged.

I have always been drawn to the earth and started recognising that She is my Mother too. I lay down upon her and felt how she holds and supports me always. It was enough to encourage me to stay with my healing journey.

I recommend you find a space where you feel safe to sit upon the Earth and allow yourself to feel her support of you. Trust yourself and your intuition. Create a sacred space by praying for protection and asking for support from those dear to you. Imagine a circle around you that will act as a container for you. Now sit down and relax into the earth beneath you. Allow yourself to feel her support and how comforting this feeling is. Do so for a minimum of 20 minutes and as often as you feel. Remember to carry that feeling of comfort with you into the rest of your life.

My own process includes writing and making collages. Writing offered me a way to express what I was feeling before I could use words to speak about my feelings. Writing works if one can do so often.

Writing about my feelings also reminds me that there are parts of me that is always free. Oh how liberating to get to know this freedom.

After loosening up so many feelings, I needed to find ways to move with it. Dance is a gift to our healing and allows me to connect deeply to those parts of me that is free. My deepest prayers and healing occurs through dancing and movement. It feels like the healing process takes on a life of itself when I let my body say what she needs to say.

Being able to express sadness, joy, loss, faith, and love through movement allows healing to come from inside of us. For this gift I am eternally grateful.

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The story of Cutting My Flower called out to be spoken - to be written and shared.

I wrote for my own healing - to set my own voice free.

I wrote for millions of women and young girls whose voices have been silenced. For those in Cape Town, Venda and the rest of South Africa. For the millions in Africa and beyond.

I wrote for myself and for those who will never speak about their experiences of Female Genital Cutting.

I wish to state clearly that I am not here to tell others what to do.

I chose to speak out about this painful experience. I chose to break a vow of silence. I chose to speak about Female Genital Cutting.

If my words encourages you - then I am honoured that my offering has not been in vain.

If it gives a voice to what you are and have been feeling for some time - then may the pulse in the ripple we are creating continue to surge ever onward.

After years of research I know that educating people about the harmful effects of FGC is vital to shifting perceptions about this practice.

My views are not the same as those who are only hearing about FGC now. I do not presume that I know what others who share this experience want to do.

For millions who do not live in cultural settings and are not bound by what they feel their ancestors wish them to continue practising - FGC does not make sense.

For millions who live in settings steeped in ancient traditions and infused with the feeling that they are practising what their ancestors expect of them, this practice continues despite world wide campaigns and governmental laws against FGC.

Campaigns aimed at educating communities, where information about the pain, girls who experience FGM endures and facts about the number of young girls who die from complications after FGM - are proving to be successful.

In areas where the community and school teachers are talking about FGM, encouraging the students at risk to talk about it, they too are meeting with success.

When husbands to be discover that women will not be able to enjoy sexual intercourse, they are not that keen to have FGM performed upon their brides.

These campaigners and their campaigns are saving vagina’s.

Cutting My Flower by Rah is available for download as an eBook here.
The hard copy is for purchase online at www.Loot.co.za

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I arrived with much anticipation to see the play Emotional Creature at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on Woman’s day.
 
I was profoundly touched to hear, see and feel the stories of so many young girls on our continent told in such a tender way. I cried and laughed with them as so many others in the audience did. I felt liberated with them for being able to say words out loud  that we as women could not say not so long ago. When they danced, I danced inside for all women. And so I asked for and have been given permission to quote a few of those precious words spoken out loud here in our very own Mother City. 
 
When girl 4 came onto the stage and she reached the top of the mountain exhausted, the audience went still. We could see and feel her innocence as she appealed to Engai for help.

"I ran away dear Engai, ran away from  my mother and father. I ran away from the cutter. I ran away from the razor, ran away from the screaming torturous pain. You must know how my sister screamed last year.

She couldn’t walk for days.

Maybe you will be mad at me but when I kneel here looking at you, at your majesty and power and I just can’t believe you would want my clitoris cut.

I just discovered it and all the things it can do and the way it can make me feel and it’s so powerful and fun and mine.

You taught us that cultivating the land is a terrible thing,  that the land is not ours to cultivate.  I looked up cultivate cause I am pretty smart in school and it means taming the land. 

Why if we are not allowed to tame the land, would you let them cultivate or tame me?  

You taught us to never ever cut down a tree, why would you let them cut me? 

You showed us not to break the land or dig into it, never to even bury our dead relatives there. Then how can you allow them to dig into me?   

Am I less than a tree?  How come we are one and equal with the earth and the animals and plants but girls are less than boys. How come you will let them cut and sell me and stop me from going to school? I’m sorry, but I think there is a mistake.

Maybe you took the day off or you weren’t paying attention. I need you to pay attention. You couldn’t have meant to cut off my clitoris. Forgive me for speaking back or acting like I know more than you, but I know my body. I know what feels necessary and right. I know what I was born with and I do not think we are made wrong. I cannot go home now. I have a whole village after my clitoris.

I cannot give it to them. I will not give it to them. I appeal to you dear Engai. I appeal to your justice and goodness to you to save my clitoris."

I Salute You Eve Ensler, Gina Shmukler, Cecile Lipworth, our wonderful local actresses and all at Vday for this precious gift to the young women of the world.  
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Since the Divine Lotus website went live and I shared a little of my story, I am a witness to people's responses to talking about this taboo subject.

I recognize that one of the challenges in raising awareness about female genital cutting is getting people to talk about the female genitalia. I face this challenge purposefully knowing it is part of what is needed in order to lift the veil of secrecy, not only about our vagina’s but especially about the subject of female genital cutting. 

In many cultures mentioning the female genitalia is strictly taboo.  FGC/FGM and the talking thereof carries an even bigger taboo around it. This taboo is deeply entrenched and even those of us who have never heard of the subject can feel and sense how riddled with superstition this is. In my opinion - this shroud that has been placed over us permeates our responses to hearing and talking about this subject.

Most of the time when I mention female genital cutting, it is followed by silence. People do not know how to respond or what to say.  Our voices instinctively start to whisper. We whisper that we did not even know it existed. We whisper that we are sure it is only happening in far away African countries. We whisper – lest we be heard talking out loud. We whisper because we are afraid.

I grew up never talking about my own genitalia. I knew from those around me that this was a taboo. That ‘good girls’ did not talk about our genitals. This taboo about owning the right to talk about what is good for us permeates our lives and stops us from expressing our wounding and from seeking support in doing so. It has taken me a long time to bridge this separation. To become comfortable talking about my own sacred yoni and all the deep feelings she holds for me.

 I lift the veil from above me - around me - under me, this veil that prevents me from talking about FGM.

My Yoni is a part of me. She has her own personality. She sheds and heals. She continually regenerates herself and my whole being. She burns a sacred fire. She holds my most potent pure power. 

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Law-makers, Police and Air Traffic Authorities combined efforts to take action against those who commit the crime of FGM in the UK during May 2014. They are leading the way in protecting young girls and educating their citizens about this secret practice and thus bringing the practice out in the open.

Operation Limelight was activated during the May 2014 in the UK. A 38-year-old woman is arrested at Heathrow on her return to the UK from Sierra Leone, for conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation. A 13 yr old Sierra Leonian girl travelling with the women was taken into the care of social services. The arrest follows Operation Limelight, a week-long initiative aimed at preventing and identifying cases of FGM in British airports. During the nationwide operation, officers were deployed in several airports across the country to raise awareness among passengers to key countries by handing out leaflets raising wariness that the practice is illegal in the UK even if carried out abroad. The police were also monitoring incoming flights from countries where the practice is rife. There have been four such operations in the last nine months, which have resulted in two arrests previously.

FGM survivor and lead campaigner in the UK Leyla Hussein told Channel 4 News that "this kind of initiative is very important because this might be the only time that a mother might get that information. It also sends out a very, very strong message that the Met Police are watching this very closely".

Doctor Phoebe Abe, a GP based in west London, has 56 patients who have been through FGM, including eight under the age of 16.

She told Channel 4 News: "They've got to talk to the schools, they've got to talk to the universities. Our children must start talking FGM. So we cannot just leave everything to the police: the police is doing the work, we have to implement it in the community."

FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but so far, there have been no prosecutions.

Imagine what will happen should our government take this kind of action against those who commit FGM here. Imagine the sense of protection young girls will start to feel if they know that we are fighting for them to be safe from FGM? Imagine...

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