Clitoral Reconstruction Surgery – HOPE for Survivors of FGM
By: F.A. Cole (April 1, 2018)
As a survivor of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) I am daily reminded of that dreadful eve thirty three years ago. Yes, I will never be the same. However, I am not the girl I was twenty years ago. On August 1st, 1984 my clitoris was forcefully amputated… On September 21st, 2017 (at age 44) I had clitoral reconstruction surgery. Even though the surgery was a success (thanks be to God) I am not as I was before the eve of August 1st, 1984.
Yes, I have been #ReUNITeD with my clitoris (new toy) and I can tell she’s there because she’s been speaking to me in ways I never knew existed because before I could learn about her, she was taken from me… I am thankful to have had this surgery which was sponsored by Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation. I have been sharing my very personal journey of recovery to sensitize other survivors and eventually raise funds for those who might be interested in reconstruction.
Every woman, born with a clitoris but never had the opportunity to enjoy it, because at a tender age she was subjected to (in my mind) the worse form of sexual violence – FGM should be given the option to: be #ReUNITeD with her “toy”…
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – Democratic and Republican lawmakers came out in support of a bill that would make the act of female genital mutilation, or FGM, illegal in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 413 would make it a crime to cut or allow someone to circumcise or excise the genitals of an underage girl.
FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and children worldwide have been affected by FGM.
According to the AHA Foundation, which came out in support of House Bill 413, more than 500,000 women and girls are at risk of FGM in the United States. Nineteen thousand of them are in Pennsylvania.
Despite bipartisan support, House Bill 413 has been stuck in the Judiciary Committee for years.
“It has been suggested in the past that the aggravated assault statute in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is adequate to prosecute this crime, and that is simply not an accurate assessment,” said State Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), who sponsored the bill. “The aggravated assault statute requires a malicious intent, which does not exist here.”
House Speaker Mike Turzai spoke in support of the bill on Monday, encouraging a move to the House floor for consideration.
On May 20, 2017 I had my first (but 2nd annual) Take Back The Power (TBTP) workshop in Freetown, Sierra Leone (for girls). Preparing for this trip was draining emotionally, physically, and financially. At the end of it all however, it was a success and God showed up. The participants were encouraged to discover their purpose and prepare for the challenges they’ll face in life, particularly the professional world. They received empowering tools to help them regain their power and stop living as victims of violence… Seeing these girls weep silently caused me much pain. All I could do was hug those who welcomed my hugs and assured them that things will get better one day.
Three girls were awarded scholarships for the 2018/2019 school year and at the end of the workshop, we awarded every participant a “Certificate of Participation”.
A few people donated their time, money, and prayers as I embarked on this very emotional assignment.
I won’t lie, when God told me to go home I was a bit scared because I wasn’t sure of what awaits me but God proved Himself and He had everything ready for my arrival. He connected me with people who work in the media thus giving me multiple platforms to talk about my work as an activist as well as a survivor of sexual violence.
I met girls who’ve been raped by men as well as the government of Sierra Leone, and this angered me. It saddened me to learn that the handful of women who are working with these girls get zero help from the government. Discovering that there are laws in place to protect children but these laws are not implemented left me livid. What is the purpose of having laws if no one cares enough to implement them? This trip was inspired by an article I read about some girls missing school during their menses because they could not afford the cost of a box of sanitary napkins. Looking in hindsight, I was one of those girls and the “giver” in me refused to shut up until I went on a sanitary napkin drive…
Many thanks to our donors without whom we would not have had a successful workshop.
We ask for your prayers and donations (monetary) as we prepare for our 2018 TBTP Workshop to be held in two cities in Sierra Leone – Freetown and Bo.
Tired of survivors of female genital mutilation being portrayed as broken women, campaigner Leyla Hussein curated an exhibition of portraits at the first FGM summit in the US. While she was there she interviewed her hero F.A. Cole, her Sierra-Leone-American counterpart.
F.A. Cole shares her story of overcoming tragedies while empowering young girls to live a life of PURPOSE on purpose.
Saturday July 23, 2016 at 2:15 P.M.
Greenbelt Library Auditorium