FGM/C Shifting Sands

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Am I a victim?: My experience with female circumcision

Published 17 December 2020 Associated Categories Interviews, Language
Am I a victim?

This poem, by Malaysian born Idura Hisham, concluded a blog written by her, and published by The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health, in 2019. At the time she was a 4th-year medical student in London. She wrote that she had undergone a comparatively minor and medicalised form of female circumcision as a baby, had no recollection of it ever happening, and had not suffered adverse effects.

In Malaysia, this is a practice done by people from all walks of life – including those of a higher ‘socio-economic’ status.

But she was beginning to feel a sense of victimhood, because she had been told what was done to her was wrong.

She felt that grouping together comparatively safer versions of female circumcision with ‘FGM’ not only alienated a whole population, but also vilified the practice without a proper understanding of what happens.

She thought this made it harder to inform Malaysians about this issue, as the widely available FGM narrative is not one they relate to.

Am I a victim?: My experience with female circumcision

You tell me it’s wrong and I believe you,

I have no reason not to.

You’re the West, and the West is always the best.

But this culture of mine,

This culture I was given, and this culture I’ve held

You say it’s inhumane and it takes my rights away,

That it diminishes me and it invalidates me.

And I believe you,

Because you’re the West, and you must be the best.

I am now a victim, I wasn’t before.

But it’s okay because I am now enlightened?

I’ll throw this culture away,

This culture you call barbaric.

But can I even call myself a victim?

What was done to them was so much worse,

But you say we are – and so we must be.

Idura Hisham’s blog can be accessed here.

The 2015 post Female Circumcision is becoming more popular in Malaysia provides useful context to the blog.

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