Welcome to you, who are willing to fight against the crimes of excision and forced marriage.
We are a small association, born of the small group created by Dr Duterte for his exiled, asylum seeking, homeless patients, who have immediately decided to create SOS Africaines en Danger !
When they were little girls, they were excised. They were told: "Silence, we torture you!"
Today they speak, they fight. Against their families, their villages and their government.
Dr Pierre DUTERTE
Doctor and director of the
Parcours d'Exil care centre.
Support to victims of torture.
I was only able to cease the extent of the feminine sexual mutilation disaster after creating the discussion group in the care center I am in charge of.
I did not suspect the extent of damages caused by this barbarian practise.
The first of crimes is silence.
I had decided to create a 'group therapy' for the women who wanted to talk through their sufferings.
To my greatest surprise, the first aim of these meetings was to help the women to discuss on why and how these mutilations happen?
They all agreed on one specific point: the rejection of any kind of sexual intercourse. They were disgusted by men, considered the sexual act a burden and wanted to get over with it as soon as possible.
How can we imagine that they would trust men after being forced into marriage, after suffering conjugal rape?
How could they trust anyone, their mother, grandmother having told them that they were going to the hairdresser, to a party, in order to trap and excise them?
Excision is the partial or full removal of a woman's internal sexual organs.
Every year, about three millions under-fifteen girls are at risk of excision.
They live in France, in Africa and everywhere in the world.
We believe that there currently is 125 millions excised women, mainly in 25 African countries.
According to International Law, excision is an inhuman and degrading procedure, on the same level as torture. One has the right to preserve their physical and psychic integrity.
In France, excision is punished by the Penal Court, and the excised women's circumciser and parents can be prosecuted.
The African Maputo Protocole (2003) asks that Nations take all necessary legal mesures, along with prosecutions, to forbid any kind of sexual mutilation.
Thanks to the Protocole, the practise is now prohibited in Senegal, Burkina-Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast.
Yet it remains unpunished.
The young women exiled in France, who attest of their infernal experience, are the very first generation to stand out and refuse that their granddaughters suffer the same crime as they did, some traditions that must be left in the past.
Maître Danielle MERIAN
Présidente de SOS Africaines en Danger !
My mother told me she was excised at 16, or 17, right before being married to my father. Her sisters were also excised. Seven of my nieces were excised the same day, at my mother-in-law's initiative.
I suffered excision when I was 13, in the scrubland. A small cabin... about ten little girls... about ten minutes long. Three women waited for me inside the cabin. The one in charge of the excision was veiled. The two other caught me, preventing me from fleeing. One sat on my torso, another on the higher part of my body. I couldn't move and it happened.
I know that excision is illegal in Ivory Coast. But you can't denounce your parents to the police.
"My mother died giving birth to me. My father when I was seven. We went to live with my uncle. He had three wives, and 21 children. When I was twelve, I told them that I had never been excised. My uncle said: "we are eating with a bitch." I never could have imagined excision to be so painful. At around 5AM, they told be we were going to the tailor, but we went to the circumciser. She told me to follow her to the bathroom. I told her I didn't want to be excised. She excised me. I bled a lot and was infected afterwards. I couldn't sit, I laid [in bed] all the time."
"I was eight when I was excised. I was with some of my family members. They would force you and take you to be excised. Today, I still have medical issues related to it. My father was responsible for his daughters' excision. Excision is a serious matter."
Excision killed my sister.
I was seven when I was excised. It happens at night. They gather 4-5-6 year-old girls. They tell them it doesn't hurt. They say it is a initiation ritual.
Early in the morning they took us to the scrubland. We were seven or eight. The women danced and sang. I almost died because of how much blood I lost. My uncle was a doctor, and came to get me in the village. He saved my life. My cousin didn't bleed as much, so they sewed her so she wouldn't have sex before marriage. They opened her on her wedding day. She was fourteen when she got married to a man who already had two wives, and she died as she gave birth. Both my sister and cousin died.
I have decided that my daughter shouldn't be excised. My first daughter was excised, while I was away. My second daughter has found refuge here. I have very painful periods with many contractions. I feel no sexual pleasure. I have known two girls who have contracted tetanus: one is dead, the other has psychiatric problems.
In Guinea, excision is not prohibited by the law.
Ex-Project Manager for the Malta
Order's actions against isolation
Amnesty International defines forced marriage as "a person being married to a known or unknown person without their will."
It is a discrimination against women, and is mostly carried out in African and Asian islam practising societies.
The 16th Article of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights points out that "marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses". Forced marriage is prohibited in many countries. However, this cultural custom is still a practise.
The UNICEF (2014), states that about 700 million women have been forced into contracting marriage, one of three of which was less that fifteen years old.
The 2001 Bamako Initiative adopted by African health ministers states that the spouses' consent must be freely expressed. If not, the marriage is invalid and all kind of sexual act will be considered violent.
According to the UNICEF, forced marriage has harmful consequences on the health (growth of the infantile mortality rate), education (married girls usually stop going to school), and violent abuse of the girls forced into marriage.
"I got married when I was nineteen. I didn't have a choice then. My mum was very concerned because I was too old. I met with my husband, but in my country you're not allowed to go out with your future husband before the wedding. I went out with the guy, I liked him. But it was a secret, my parents didn't know. Hopefully I found someone. I thought I could try the marriage with him. I was excised, my sister died because of it; I went to school, and I understood in biology class why she had died. My cousin died because of it too.
I have decided that my daughter shouldn't be excised.
I explained why to my husband. I told him that if we had a daughter, she wouldn't be excised. He has now accepted my decision. I've had a boy and two daughters."
Fatoumata Binta DIOP,
I was fifteen when I was married to a man older than my father. He was about 50. He raped me and I bled a lot. He raped me everyday. I was in seventh grade when I was forced into marriage and had asked my father if I could keep studying. He told me women mustn't study. He chose my husband within his family members, my uncle who already had a wife and children.
My husband died in a car accident. I was then made to remarrying with his older brother. I married the older brother too, and thus went through forced marriage twice. Forced marriage happens often in Guinea. Girls are married at 14, 15, 16. They don't necessarily expect us to have our period, just a bit of breasts. Some aren't polygamous, but 80% of men are. Because there are no welcoming places for us, no orphanage, no place they can refuge themselves after leaving their husband, some girls have behave dangerously. Their only chance is to leave the country. Some become prostitutes.
When I was fifteen and graduated from high school, my uncle made me marry a forty year old man. He already had another wife of about 25. It wasn't easy, I didn't want to get married.
The wedding was a trap, I didn't know I was going to be married on that day. I had never seen by husband before the wedding. One day, as I came home from school, I saw people in my uncle's courtyard. I asked the neighbour if he knew what was going on, and he told me that one of my uncle's daughters was getting married. My aunt asked me to follow her in the bedroom so I did. Two women were waiting there. They locked the door and kept the key from me. They put me into my wedding gown.
I refused to follow the wedding ritual. They slapped me to make me do it. I couldn't resist, they were three. I screamed, no-one came to help me. It was the first time I saw the husband. He gave some money to my uncle. They took me and brought me me to his house. He knew I didn't like him. When he came into my room, I started hitting and insulting him. I told him I didn't like him.
Then he wanted to have sex, but I refused. My aunts and the wives of my uncle were behind the door to make sure I was a virgin. I didn't want to, and started to struggle. The husband left, the women came in and attached me. He raped me all night long. When he was done, he left with the sheet and showed it to prove I was a virgin. He kept raping me the whole night. My aunts came back in the morning. Then I became pregnant. It happened all the time, he hit me all the time. My body is full of scars and cigarette burns.
WOMEN AND GIRLS WHO SUFFER FROM VIOLENT CRIMES SUCH AS EXCISION, FORCED MARRIAGE, DOMESTIC SLAVERY, LACK OF SCHOOL EDUCATION, FORCED PROSTITUTION, HUMAN TRADE, CONFINEMENT WITH TOTAL OR PARTIAL LACK OF FREEDOM, PHYSICAL AND/OR MORAL HARASSMENT, FORCED RELIGIOUS CONVERSION OR HIGH RISK FEMINIST ACTIVITY ARE ALL APT TO SEEK ASYLUM IN FRANCE AND TO BE PROTECTED UNDER THE REFUGEE STATUS OR SUBSIDIARY PROTECTION.
WE WILL HELP THEM.
To all those who are confronted with serious violence because of their opposition to excision performed on them or their daughters, and who cannot be protected against these violences and mutilations in their country, who have no other choice but to flee, to seek asylum and hide.
Excision is a mutilation acknowledged in France and the EU as a crime punished by law.
This also includes the protection of women and girls who seek refuge in order to prevent these crimes.
Maître Judith CORONEL-KISSOUS
Lawyer at the Paris Bar
How? By applying the measures endorsed by Asylum law and Refugee law.
Based on the 1958 Geneva Convention, Refugee Law protects girls from any risk of excision as much as the people who are opposed to the practise, and helps qualifying feminine sexual mutilation and/or serious injuries suffered by people as a response to their opposition to the crime of excision. These profiles can juridically be given the refugee status.
A person seeking protection must ask for two things at the same time: asylum and recognition of the refugee status.
+ Asylum is the right for a foreigner (non-EU resident) to reside in the welcoming country without risking to be sent back to their country of origin, for the time the welcoming country studies his request for recognition of the refugee status.
The asylum request can only be asked for a temporary or short duration.
+ The request for recognition of the Refugee Status is a sustainable request and must, from an administrative standpoint, be requested at the same time as the asylum.
Patients to whom I propose this reparation usually believe it to be a graft, collected from another part of their body, or a 'donor''s.
It is often a great surprise to these mutilated women to learn that, even excised, their clitoris is still there, hidden, and that there is a great chance for them to experience sexual pleasure. This reconstruction, invented by the french urologist Pierre Foldes, can give the woman a functional clitoris after having been through an excision.
Clitoris reconstruction is generally made by resection of the scar, liberation of the clitoral shaft and of the whole clitoral crux.
A clitoroplasty and repositioning then occur. Their goal is to restaure a normal anatomy, as much as to obtain a normally innervated organ, in order to recreate the original anatomy to recover a functional and satisfying sexual life.
Reconstruction seldom limits itself to a basic resetting of the clitoral function.
Excising 'techniques' are mostly vestigial, brutal and unhygienic, and their damages can extend beyond the clitoris itself, and necessitate further chirurgical interventions.
These reparations rid patients of the pain they felt when urinating, having their period or when having sexual intercourse. Reparation also makes childbirth less complicated and dangerous.
In certain parts of Africa, sexual mutilations go far beyond clitoral damage.
There are three famous types of genital mutilation: feminine circumcision, or 'Sunna' (taking off the clitoral hood and the glans' extremity); the basic excision, known as clitoridectomy (which removes a more complete part of the glans and sometimes of the labia minora) ; and finally the infibulation (which almost totally shuts the vaginal way by scarification and suture of the labia majora, sometimes even of the inner thighs.)
The women who have been operated and who come back to our discussion group express their feeling of being 'complete' again, to have recovered an important part of their body, and often to have felt sexual pleasure again.
Before the surgery, most of them are angry when talking about their excision. Angry against their family members, the people who surrounded them and who permitted this mutilation. But they also feel shame and fright when talking about sexual intercourse. After the surgery, the group is filled with smiles and the happiness to feel like a woman.
However, it is sometimes hard for them to face their family members and friends who tend to cast them away.
Genital mutilation reparation is thus not just a beautifying intervention! This simple surgical operation brings back a feminine identity to the woman, as much as it rids her of pain and urinary tract infections.