Isiolo Report

Angaaf radio Report

By Aisha Roba | Date: 27th Jan 2021

Aisha Roba was at Angaaf radio, which covers most of Isiolo county in Kenya. It is a local Radio and has a large audience.

One medical officer and two Anti-FGM champions and survivors shared the experiences they had after undergoing the cut. There was a question and answer session where the listeners called in to ask questions and give input. A two-minute jingle that played for 3 days was produced and played during prime times.

“It’s not common for survivors to come out and share their own stories as we did. FGM is no longer a taboo subject, people can talk about it without fear or shame.

Aisha Roba

Women Groups / Individuals called in to request to be part of the End FGM campaign team.
Some questions asked were delicate. Survivors and champions themselves need enough training on how to engage and give feedback to the community members when live on air.

A caller shared an experience of a young girl who underwent FGM and lost blood to a point of death. Immediately after this, another caller reached out saying that it was then he learned of the effects and said that he will never let any girl undergo FGM.

Mrs. Rosaline Gollo narrated her horrible child hood story in the hands of cutters when she was aged six.

Linkages (established or strengthened) & their contribution to impact

We have created a good rapport with the radio station we were at and they promised to have us again and also they agreed to have a day in a month they will be discussing issues of FGM.

I would engage a number of religious leaders and Elders, give their opinions because a number of the community members practice FGM because it is religious and cultural at the same time. If we have the religious leaders repeatedly declare that FGM isn’t Islamic the community members’ night abandon the culture.

  • I would do the show in Kiswahili, Borana, Somali and also Samburu because this are communities that practice FGM in Isiolo county, so as to reach out to a larger audience.

Program take-aways

  • Medicalization of FGM is on the rise In Isiolo county
  • Many women / youth groups have been formed to sensitize the community on FGM
  • The county has a survivor’s network that was formed recently.
  • Most of the community members are not aware of the presidential directive of ending FGM by 2022.

I was six years old when it happened to me at my rural village near Merti in Isiolo County. I knew what was going to happen, I knew they were going to cut me because a lot of my friends had done it and I had a look – it was quite normal for girls to have a look at each other.

My friends had told me that it was really painful, that it was horrible, so I was terrified.

It happened when my mother was away and relatives were looking after me and my sister. In the morning, when I was at school, they told me it was ‘my time’. My uncle and aunt came to take me from school. It was my sister’s time too – she was eight years old.
The woman who cut us was my grandmother’s sister – and she was going to cut us in a hut near a huge acacia tree. They used ropes to tie our legs apart and there were lots and lots of girls there. I could hear screaming, lots of horrible screaming and there was so much blood. Girls were crying.

My grandmother’s sister was cutting so many girls and when my sister had been done, she told her to just stand outside, and blood was running down her legs, then she fainted.

My grandmother was screaming at her sister – asking how she could do this to her grandchildren. She was terrified that my sister would die. But my great aunt insisted, and they said it was my turn. I ran away – I ran as fast as I could but they sent boys after me and they caught me they took me by my legs and arms and carried me back.

One of them was my older brother – he helped carry me back to the cutter.

They tied me down. I was fighting as hard as I could, but they were stronger. I was screaming. The old woman, my great aunt, used a razor blade – it was clean and new, but there was no anesthetic when she cut me. I have no memory at all of her cutting me. They tied my legs together all the whole way down so I couldn’t spread my legs, I remained that way for three to four weeks.
I remember my grandmother telling me I had to urinate.

I was terrified because my legs were tied and I didn’t want to sit to urine, so I leaned over to one side and the pain was unbearable.

I jumped making the wound to tear and open.

It was indeed the most horrifying thing as blood started to flow again. When I was nearly twelve, my aunt examined me. They declared that I was not closed enough.
There was no other option. They had resolved with absolute finality that I must undergo the crude cut once more.

They took me to the midwife who lived a few streets away. When I noticed where they were taking me, I tried to run away, but they held me tight and dragged me into the midwife’s house. I screamed for help and tried to free myself but I was not strong.

They held me down and put a cover over my mouth so I could not scream. Then they cut me again: and this time, the woman who operated on me made sure that I was closed.
I don’t know how many days I was lying there. The pain was terrible. I was tied up and could not move. I could not urinate; my stomach became all swollen. I was terribly hot one moment, then shaking with cold. Then the midwife came again. I screamed as hard as I could, as I thought she was going to cut me again. Then I lost consciousness.

I woke up in Merti hospital bed. I was terrified; I did not know where I was. I was in terrible pain; my genital area was all swollen and hurt all the time. Later I was told that the infibulations had been cut open to let the urine and the pus out. I was terribly weak, and I did not care anymore. I wanted to die.

It is years later now. The doctors told me that I could never have children the normal that is via the birth canal because of the infibulations. Therefore, I cried and cried and cried a lot for better part of the week until literally there were no tears and my face swollen, my eyes were red and my voice feeble. I looked at my mother and my aunts, and I ask them: ’Why did you do this terrible thing to me?’” My periods were far from over. I started having periods and the problems started all over again.

I had to go and see a doctor and again I had to be opened to allow the flow of the menstrual blood. Years later, when I was old enough to bear kids in long term effect I had to go through BTL (Bilateral Tubulagation) and permanent closure of my uterus. The village men or the potential suitors never looked my way after hearing that I could not bear fruits meaning children.

However, I thank my creator that despite the stigma I faced, I am now a mother of four beautiful angels, all through caesarian operations, however, I lost a baby boy on the operation bed.

My four girls would never trail this life-threatening path of Female Genital Mutilation. Lots of people from my community believe that if you are ‘open’ [haven’t undergone FGM], no man will want to marry you, and they keep telling me that. But I don’t believe that – and in any case, if a man doesn’t want me because I am open, the way Allah made me, then he can go away!

This may sound strange, but I’m not angry about what happened to me. There’s no point, I don’t want to spend my life feeling anger and hate.

I want to be at peace.

Mrs. Rosaline Gollo

Jeremiah Kipainoi

Kipainoi is Director of Communications at GMC, and is working with activists to effectively run their media campaigns to end FGM in 9 African countries.He is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering women's rights issues and has been published on the BBC, Deutsche Welle, The New York Times, among others.He produced the End FGM Podcast and hosted the End FGM Live, bringing together local and global stakeholders working at the End FGM campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic.