Meet Faizah, FGM Survivor from Uganda
Faizah grew up in Sudan with the expectation that all girls would undergo female genital circumcision (considered widely as mutilation or FGM). In Faizah’s tribe, the procedure is a long culturally practiced method considered an induction into proper womanhood and is typically done to girls as young as five.
Faizah was seven when she underwent female genital cutting. The conditions of her FGM continue to haunt her. Performed in an unsanitized home and with no anesthesia, the experience left her in excruciating pain and with horrific memories. The first procedure was considered a failure, so her elders sent her to have it done a second time. This time, she endured even more horrific pain as the procedure was more aggressive and done again with no anesthesia.
The long-term consequences of FGM left Faizah with physical ailments such as recurring infections, years of insomnia, and difficult births with each of her five children. When Faizah had her own daughters, she knew that she needed to do all she could to prevent them from experiencing the same pain she had.
With such strict expectations that all girls in the tribe were to undergo this procedure, Faizah and her husband Azim realized that the only sure way to prevent their girls from having this done to them would be to flee. To achieve safety for their family, Faizah and Azim and their children sought safety in Los Angeles. Squeezed into a one bedroom apartment, the family constructed a new life hoping to escape the fear and physical consequences of FGM for their daughters.
With a mix of trepidation and hope, Faizah moved forward to seek legal support and find healing services at PTV.
Working with a therapist, Faizah has been able to work through the immense pain and challenges that her memories of FGM have wrought in her life. PTV assisted her and her family to navigate fraught legal channels and in 2017 they received asylum to remain in the U.S. and build a new future. Faizah is comforted in knowing her daughters are free from being forced into the procedure and pain that she endured.
Though immensely painful, Faizah’s story is all too common. Support from donors helps women like her to get much needed help to deal with traumatic memories and bravely build a safer future.