SHE IS SALEEMA

SHE IS SALEEMA - EndFGM Poem

SHE IS SALEEMA
Poem by Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore-Isedowo

She remembered
She remembered being so young, barely five, yet knowing all
She remembered her father, so full of life, yet empty in death
She remembered her mother, so rich in health, yet poor in help
She remembered afterwards the hushed tones, the words unsaid, and the loud judgment
It is our culture, they claimed
It is tradition, they insisted
If not, she is an outcast
If not, no man would marry her
If not, she would be promiscuous

She knew
She knew this time would come, she knew her fate
Her father had fought, but he was no more
Her mother had stalled, but “tradition” called
That is how it is done, they said
This is the way of our forefathers, they claimed
If not, she would never be accepted
If not, she will never enjoy an easy birth
If not, she would never be a real woman

Again, she remembered
She remembered the cold knife, the searing pain, and the bloody hands
She remembered her burning loins and her bleeding heart
She remembered that though she healed, yet her heart bled still
You have proven yourself, they hailed
You are our daughter, they praised
Oh, now you are a real woman
Oh, now you would please your husband only
Oh, now you will enjoy an easy birth

Then she wondered why
Why must culture be so mean, so painful and so cruel?
Why must tradition breed female subjugation, bias and control?
Why must our norms permit gender violence, unhealthy practices, and harmful rituals?
But culture should evolve
And tradition can be amended for progress and advancement
No! This cannot continue, cannot persist, she vowed
Yes! Now is the time for action
Yes! Now every girl can indeed be SALEEMA

Saleema is a word popularly used in the context of protecting girls from Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM) that means whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed, intact, pristine, and untouched, in a God-given condition (UNICEF, 2020)

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