I was butchered.
I was six when I was mutilated in Somalia.
You are held down by the people that you love and trust.
There was no medication. There was no anaesthetic.
They pulled my legs apart and chopped my labias off.
Whatever skin you have left, they stitch it up.
The pain was overwhelming. I felt death was better.
Physically, you might heal, but emotionally it’s for life.
I moved to the UK when I was 18 and it crept back up on me.
I felt like the whole world was closing in on me. My pain, my despair.
After a lot of therapy I accepted what had happened.
Now I can look at myself and be at peace.
I realised I can use the pain as a tool to fight back.
I’ve accepted that I am not a freak of nature. I am not an incomplete human being.
My femininity wasn’t taken away.
This was part of my culture, my mum didn’t do it out of hatred.
She was doing it out of protection, which took me years to understand.
I’ve written a book and now I’m campaigning against female genital mutilation.
My daughters give me the motivation to fight on.
Hibo Wardere, 50, Waltham Forest
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