Cut but not broken
The story of a woman's fight against FGM
Toyin's story is one of pain, loss, and incredible resilience. For her, every day is a struggle to live a life without the physical and emotional scars of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her battle began with the birth of her first child, and it has continued ever since, as she fights to spare other women from the same fate.
Despite the pain and suffering that FGM has caused her, Toyin refuses to be broken. She draws strength from her children and her community, determined to be a voice for those who have suffered in silence for too long.
I want to save my life," she says, tears streaming down her face. "But I also want to save the lives of other women; says Toyin.
A mother of two, Toyin experienced obstructed labour during her first pregnancy due to the inability of her vulva orifice to expand. This resulted in her having to go through a cesarean delivery.
Her second delivery was much worse than the previous, as she experienced lacerations in her cervix and vulva. This led to her bleeding excessively, and the doctors rushing her to surgery.
The doctor told me all the pains I had experienced during my deliveries were due to me getting cut. I asked him what can be done. He told me FGM was irreversible, and advised me not to have any more children," she says. "I broke down in tears that day.
Toyin's story is a stark reminder of the toll that FGM takes on the lives of women and girls in Nigeria. With almost twenty million survivors in the country, it is a problem that cannot be ignored. Yet, despite the efforts of organizations like UNICEF and UNFPA, FGM remains a deeply ingrained cultural practice in many communities. While the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15 - 49 dropped five notches from 25 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent in 2018, prevalence among girls aged 0 - 14 increased more than two per cent from around 17 per cent to over 19 per cent in the same period, according to NDHS 2018 figures.
For Toyin, the fight against FGM is personal. She has seen firsthand the devastating effects that it can have on women and their families. From the pain and trauma of childbirth to the long-term health consequences, the toll is immense. Yet, even in the face of such overwhelming adversity, she remains determined to make a difference.
Through her work with traditional and religious leaders in her community, Toyin is making a real difference in the fight against FGM. She speaks out against the practice wherever she can, sharing her story and raising awareness of the harm it causes. Her tireless efforts have made her a beacon of hope for other survivors, and a powerful advocate for change. "You know how in those days people would be sharing tracts from bus to bus, preaching Jesus Christ? That's how I speak against FGM."
It is Toyin's hope that one day, FGM will be a thing of the past. She dreams of a world where women and girls are free from the pain and trauma of this brutal practice. And while that day may still be far off, her courage and resilience give us all hope that change is possible.
Toyin's story is a powerful reminder of the human cost of FGM. It is a reminder that every woman's life is precious, and that we must do all we can to protect them from harm. Her fight is our fight, and we must stand with her, until the day when no woman is ever again subjected to the brutality of Female Genital Mutilation.