“In my culture it is simply called cutting”

Vanessa was now even more intrigued about the mysterious and sensual woman that had made love to her. She asked Alexandra to explain how they had met.

“I first met Sensi at a woman’s refuge in Kennington” replied Alexandra. “I had just escaped from a very abusive relationship and was probably at the lowest ebb of my life. I felt so utterly worthless that I didn’t really care anymore whether I lived or died. It wasn’t that I even felt angry, hurt or desperate any more. Those feelings had come and gone and I was left with a feeling of complete emptiness.”

“Please let me know if any of my questions upset you, it’s the last thing I want to do,” said Vanessa. “Do you mind if I ask how you came to be at the women’s refuge?”

“I was at the refuge because my husband had beaten me yet again and this time he had hurt me so badly that I ended up in hospital with two broken ribs and an eye that was so bruised that it had completely closed. I can’t even remember how many times he had hit me during the five years we were together but I can remember that the first time was our wedding night.”

Vanessa was horrified; she could not understand how anyone could bring themselves to harm the beautiful, caring woman who sat next to her on the bed. She just couldn’t imagine what could have initiated such anger and violence. She asked Alexandra what had provoked such a response.

“It was because I screamed at him in agony at the pain he was causing me and refused all of the further attempts he made to penetrate me” replied Alexandra, a hint of anger now evident in her voice. “Do you remember that I said to you earlier that I was living proof of how far some cultures will go to in order to deprive women of their sexuality?”

“I do,” said Vanessa “but I didn’t really understand what you meant.”

“Let me show you” and with that Alexandra moved around in front of Vanessa on the bed. She leant backwards and pulled the cord on her robe which slowly parted, initially revealing to Vanessa’s eyes a pronounced cleavage that became a pair of firm uplifted breasts with large areolae and nipples. Her eyes travelled downward as the robe slowly parted until she suddenly let out a gasp of dismay. Where Alexandra’s vagina and labia should have been was completely smooth with a jagged scar running down the middle to a small opening at the bottom. It was like nothing she had ever seen before.

“Oh Alexandra, what has happened to you” she cried. Out of impulse she leant forward and put her arms around Alexandra in a futile gesture of protection as if she could in some way take away the tears of hurt that now showed in Alexandra’s eyes. The two women just held each other for a while until Alexandra gently pulled away, a slight smile now showing although her eyes glistened as she attempted to hold back her tears. “In my culture it is simply called cutting” she said “but you may have heard of it as female genital mutilation or FGM.”

“Why would anyone do such a thing?” said Vanessa. She couldn’t comprehend that such a beautiful woman had been so horribly mutilated and she shuddered inwardly as she started to imagine the hurt and pain that Alexandra must have experienced.

Alexandra explained that when she was about eleven she had been taken around to her auntie’s house by her mother one weekend. She had been surprised to see that there were three other women there that she did not know. Before she could even grasp what was happening her dress was taken off and she was forcibly held down on this bed by four of the women whilst a fifth reached down between her legs. She was suddenly screaming in agony, she had never felt pain like it before and after what seems like an eternity she believe she must have passed out. She awoke to a terrible throbbing pain between her legs, the area between them covered in a rough dressing stained with her blood.

Her mother had told her that she was now ‘clean’ and that she was a proper woman who would attract a good husband. In a bizarre way she later realised that her mother and aunt had actually believed that they were doing the best for her future. Despite this, Alexandra had never forgiven them for what they had put her through and the consequences that it had had upon her life. After some considerable time, when the bleeding had stopped and the dressing had been removed, Alexandra summoned up the courage to see what had been done to her. She picked up the mirror she used when dressing her hair and placed it in front of her, facing towards the area between her legs where her vagina and labia should have been. To her horror she had seen that the women had cut off her lips and the precious bud at the top of her vagina and had crudely stitched her vagina up until there was just a small opening left at the bottom so she could pass urine.

This was just one way that women were oppressed in her culture which believed that women were little more than the possessions of their husbands. By denying a woman any chance to celebrate her sexuality, it was hoped that she would remain faithful to her husband and not be led astray by any unfulfilled sexual longings. Naturally, as a direct result of this horrific practice, many of these husbands spent much of their spare time having sexual relations with uncut women, the same women that they were happy to pour scorn upon when selecting a bride. This was what ultimately happened with Alexandra’s husband. Alexandra was so traumatised by what had happened to her and the intense pain when he tried to force himself through the small opening in her vagina that their marriage was never consummated. Her husband physically and emotionally took out his rage and frustration upon Alexandra in-between his affairs with ‘uncut’ women and his steadily increasing consumption of alcohol.