My name is unimportant. I am twelve years of age. Today, I am to become a woman.
I must submit to tradition; endure humiliation and pain at the hands of those I love.
I am told that I am to be cut, but this is not Africa or Egypt, or India. This is England, and I do not live in ignorance. I know.
Today, I shall have my arms tightly clasped behind me, be pinned down on a stool, naked and afraid, my legs prized apart and held by those I have trusted.
It is no use screaming. Neighbours and passers-by will not hear me above the hi-fi and TV. I cannot ask for help in a world full of strangers.
A woman I do not know will kneel before me, light reflecting off the blade in her hand. I shall feel excruciating pain, feel the warmth and smell the blood, whilst I am held, hacked and mutilated.
If I struggle, I put my life at risk. A severed artery is all it takes.
I’m told I should be proud. I’m told I must be thankful my parents see fit to follow tradition.
I do not understand why I should be glad.
I know only that I risk infection and impairment to my walking.
I know to expect painful periods and incontinence as I grow older.
When I marry, I must be cut again to allow my husband penetration.
When I give birth, again I must be opened and risk painful tearing. Perhaps my husband will insist I be re-stitched between children.
I shall be deprived of my sexuality.
I am afraid.
I do not want to become this woman, this adult.
I do not want to feel the searing pain down there. Not now, not ever.
I want to run, to hide but there is nowhere to go, nowhere where they will not find me.
Who can I tell?
How can I turn against my mother, my family, my culture?
How can I betray them? I cannot.
Where is the reason?
Where is my consolation?
Where is justice?
They are not here.
Today, I am to become a woman.