Abdulla Barzinji – Erbil
It has always been difficult and shameful for me to speak about my genitals, and what my parents did that made me hate them.
Despite all the psychological issues that I live with, I feel that it’s better to speak out, and no longer remain silent. What you are reading isn’t just my story but the story of thousands like me across the world. It is time for our voices to be heard.
The name of the article sounds seductive, but of course, it is not. They took away temptation and replaced it with pain. In front of me and my girlfriends, they fed that ‘temptation’ to the chickens.
I’m now forty-three years old and although I have been married for ten years, intercourse hasn’t once given me sexual satisfaction.
My story starts when I was five years old. One day in our village, now part of Erbil province, my mother told me that we would join our neighbours visiting La’ali’s house.
There were three older women from our street and seven girls including me and my younger sister Layla, who was fast and fearless. We walked along happily singing and playing.
Prior to this incident, I had regarded La’ali as a sweet and charming old lady. She didn’t have any daughters our age and lived on her own in her mud brick house. In the front courtyard she had a small room full of chickens, doves and baby chicks. Every day we would see the doves soar into the sky and, the symbol of freedom.
We arrived at La’ali’s house, where she made us feel very welcome. She pulled a handful of sweets out of her pocket, then securely locked the main door of the house. We started playing in the courtyard unaware of what was happening.
In the yard there was a red flat bucket, faded by the sun. I thought it was for the doves to drink from, especially since the water was had a funny color.
La’ali lifted the bottom of her black dress and put it into her waistband, rolled up her sleeves and appeared ready to carry out a chore. Us girls were playing hide and seek.
All of sudden the mother of one of my friends grabbed her daughter and said, “Let’s start with Jawe.” Her real name was Jawahir and has since passed away. This caught our attention and we all ran to our mothers demanding “Mother what is Jawe getting? What about us mother, mother for us as well, please mother?”
La’ali took off Jawe’s dusty pyjama bottoms and took her to the flat bucket. She was told to squat. La’ali was holding a razor, she leaned over, reached for Jawe’s genitals and said, “In the name of Allah the most gracious and the most merciful.” Before she had even finished saying the words, Jawe started screaming. She jumped up in pain, looking terrified. She was bleeding all over her legs. La’ali told her to sit in the flat bucket, which contained salt water.
They tried to force Jawe into the salt water. Jawe, believing that this would ease her pain, stopped struggling. However, once Jawe’s flesh touched the water she screamed so loud it shook the throne of God.
Her mother was hitting her, shouting, “Stay silent! If you aren’t circumcised God will be angry with us and even accepting water from you will be haram [Forbidden by Islam], stay silent!”
La’ali was holding Jawe’s clitoris, and she threw it into a dirty aluminum plate. She stood up like the angel of death and looked at our mothers. “Sisters, bring another.”
We fled in different directions, but there was no use running. My sister Layla quickly climbed the door, jumped over it and runaway. When that happened, my mother unhesitatingly caught me and lcked me in a room.
They brought a crying Jawe into the room with us then, one by one our clitorises were cut off with the same razor. We were forced to squat in the same salty water and our clitorises were put on the same dirty aluminum plate.
Eventually we were all screaming and crying in the room, covered in blood. The excruciating pain and the crying made us short of breath. Outside the room my mother and her friends were paying La’ali and thanking her. “Sister, thank you very much, God repays you.”
Then they opened the door and dragged us home.
As we left we saw La’ali throwing our clitorises to the chickens which ate them.
After a week of pain and misery, gradually, us girls together away from our homes and talked about our pain and discomfort. Then we decided to kill the chickens in revenge of our clitorises being cut off.
A few days later, when I was able to walk again properly, I was the first to get myself near to La’ali’s house. I waited cautiously in a corner until one of her chickens came close to me. I grabbed it by the throat with all of my strength. It struggled, jumped about and tried to escape but the force of my anger was stronger. The chicken collapsed in my hand and when I felt she was dead, I realised I felt no satisfaction. I didn’t let go of it, and tears of pain streamed down my face. Quietly, angrily, I said, “Why did you eat it? Why, why?”
Gradually, more of La’ali’s chickens were killed. It was the only sense of revenge my friends and I had. When I tell my story of pain now, I do so with a determined smile.