Women circumcision in some cultures is justified as a measure of hygiene,but the real purpose of it is to safeguard a woman's virginity. Why else the insistence of a small opening no larger than a grain of sorghum!one barely enough to permit the passing of urine and of the menstrual blood?
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It had not been my own feast,but i remember the feeling of excitement that enveloped the house that morning. Lots of women were there bringing gifts-sweets,cakes,various kinds of delicious drinks,trinkets,and my elder sister,9 years old, was the center of attention. I felt jealous,left out,I wanted to have it done too. I cried until the women around relented and agreed to do it to me too. There was no room of fear in my mind:all I could think was to have it done to me so that I could get gifts.
I remember the preliminaries,being in the midst of a cluster of women. They laid me on my back on a small table. Two of the women,one on the left and the other on the right,gently but firmly held me down with one hand and with the other took hold of my legs and spread them wide. A third standing behind,held down my shoulders. Another washed my genitals with a mixture of traditional medicine. It felt pleasantly cool. Off to one side several women were playing tin drums. I did not know the intent of the drums was to drown the screams that would be coming from my throat in a moment.
The last thing I remember was one of the women,a little knife in one hand,bending over me. The next instant there was an explosion of pain in my crotch,hot searing pain that made me scream like the rabbit when the steel trap snapped its legs. But the din of the drums,rising to a deafening crescendo,drowned my screams,and the women who held me expertly subdued my young strength coiling into a spring to get away. Then I must have passed out. All the outer parts of my genitals were cut off,lips,clitoris and all the mutilated opening stitched up with a thorn,leaving the size of a grain of sorghum. When I regained consciousness,i was lying on a mat,hot pain between my legs. The slightest movement aggravated the pain that tears would well up in my eyes. For sometime after the operation I walked like a cripple:my thighs had been tied together so that I could move my legs only from the knees down which meant taking only the tiniest of steps. People could tell what had happened by the way I walked.
An opening the size of this is anti-hygienic. This kind of circumcision if it has any purpose is to ensure the hymen remained intact my society made so much of virginity that no girl who lost it could hope to achieve a decent marriage. There was no greater blow to a man's ego than to find out the girl he married was not a virgin.