Sarian’s Story

Pain was worse than childbirth, says victim of FGM

London community worker Sarian Karim Kamara, from Peckham, underwent female genital mutilation as a child in Sierra Leone.

Ms Karim Kamara, who moved to Britain in 1999, says far more needs to be done to protect thousands of girls at risk in the UK. She has had five children — one son born in Sierra Leone and four daughters born in the UK.

“I’ll never forget what happened to me,” she said. “I was only 11 years old and I’m 36 now. I’ve had five children and the pain I went through on that day cannot begin to compare to any of my labour pains. It’s indescribable.

“Some people might think that FGM is just a cultural practice, that it is normal or acceptable for some communities.

“But it is not acceptable because it causes so much physical and psychological harm and has no benefit at all.

“It also damages relationships, but people don’t discuss this.

“I’ve had problems in the  past when I’ve met men from other communities and the relationships did not get anywhere because of this. The sexual part is totally destroyed.

“You have to have somebody who really cares for you for you to ever enjoy sex.

“I’m married now and happily married because my husband is from a community that practises FGM so he will not treat me any differently. But a lot of women have not been so lucky.

“All four of my girls were born in London hospitals but not once during any of the births or check-ups did anyone ask me when and where I had FGM done, or whether I intended to have my daughters cut.

“Nobody in this country has ever talked to me or any of my daughters about FGM at all. I find that very disturbing because it’s very obvious I’ve been through the process — everything was removed.

“You see people mumbling among themselves. I don’t know if it’s out of fear or because they don’t want to upset me that nobody says anything.”

Emma Batha is a journalist at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


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