Aissa Edon, 32, was pinned down and mutilated when she was just six-years-old. “I remember everything about it,” she says, “the place, the smell, being held down. I remember screaming – it sounded like someone else, but it was me – and I remember blood and intense pain. Pain I can’t even describe.”
Now a midwife in London specialising in FGM, she is happy to speak openly to Cosmo about her experiences. “I was living in Mali when my stepmother took me to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). I was being adopted by a family in France and it happened before I went away – a kind of terrible going-away present. My one-year-old sister had it done then, too.
“When I arrived in France, my adopted parents knew straight away – a section of my medical records was sealed, marked ‘do not open’, and the FGM was included there. I was very lucky to be in France because I had a lot of complications – pain for months afterward, urinary tract infections, and psychological problems. To this day, I can’t look at a razor blade, and for years I carried the guilt of what happened to my sister, wondering whether she’d have escaped FGM if I hadn’t been leaving.
“I had surgery in 2004 to correct my urinary problems, and reconstructive surgery to my clitoris in 2005. The first time I knew it was working, I was walking down the street and I felt something strange happening down below! I still have some psychological issues, and intimacy is difficult at times – my body is working just fine, but my head shuts down.”