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Female Genital Mutilation & Early Marriage Led Mental Health - Celina 19

Harmful cultural practices can affect your mental health

I am Celina, 19 years old, from the great land of Turkana. I happened to be born and raised in a very remote village, and my parents valued culture so much. Speaking ill about our culture in our village was an abomination. My parents could not even oppose the harmful cultural practices in our village, that is, FGM, early marriages and forced marriage.

Victims of harmful cultural practices.

I am a victim of both FGM and early marriage. I underwent FGM at the age of 14 years. This was immediately after I completed my primary education. I was lured and circumcised, unwilling since I did not embrace the culture at all. This made me uncomfortable for a very long period. I was afraid of interacting with people not from my culture because I did not want them to know I underwent FGM. I felt like I was failing at everything. I withdrew myself from others and felt rejected. Sometimes I felt like running away from home, but I had to accept that this was our culture and we were to embrace it. Since every girl my age was circumcised in my village, I had to take it and move on.

Series of pain.

I thought this would be the first and last pain I was to bare of the culture, but things were not as expected. I heard my parents discussing marrying me off to one of the wealthiest men in my village. I started living in fear; it was now crystal clear that I would not be joining high school even after performing so well. I was forcefully married that and my life completely changed. My life was full of regret, and I became useless and worthless.

A mother title.

I gained the title of a mother, and when I looked at my three daughters, I cried, and I was filled with a lot of bitterness because I knew the same thing might be reciprocated to them. At 19, I looked different, wrinkled face, no shape, big belly, and saggy breasts. I was not attractive anymore, and I felt nobody would want to look at me anymore. At some point, I wanted to end my life together with my children.

Women group who visited the village.

All thanks to this women's group that visited our village every weekend and engaged us in activities. One lady from the group approached me and asked why I seemed sad. We talked, and I told her everything was happening and felt like I could die. At first, it was not easy, but I found myself powering out my heart to her. In the end, I realized she was a counsellor and suggested more sessions via the phone, and I agreed to it. After a few sessions, I felt inspired when she reassured me that how I felt would reduce in time, and I had positive self-talk that made me more vital every day.

I am glad I shared my struggles.

I was glad to share my struggles with someone who was a professional, even though she was far. I am confident that tele counselling works, and I want to let everyone know that they should not suffer silently but can always seek help. And finally, to SAY NO TO HARMFUL CULTURAL PRACTICES since they can affect the victim's mental health.



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