Female Genital Mutilations: The Story of Kedra
by Getu Tadesse Mindaye DR

"We had better circumcise her just like her peers—and accept the pain and tribulation that comes after."

In Somalia, Kedra's mother believes that the time has come for her six-year-old daughter to be circumcised, an ancient custom particular to the culture. Kedra's father is hesitant, asserting that the Koran does not support this tightly held tradition. But he accedes because of the familial disgrace that might result if he does not. For the ritual, Kedra, innocent of what is to come, wears a pretty dress, and female relatives gather. The woman who performs the surgery will use a knife, needle, and thread—no anesthesia. The pain is extreme, with many bloody aftereffects. Kedra finally recovers, doing well in school and considering college. But this is unacceptable in the culture, as a female's only role is to marry and have many children. Kedra, though, determines to defy that social stricture and find happiness with a young man who loves and respects her.

Author Tadesse is a medical practitioner who has worked within WHO and UNICEF in the region about which he writes and has worked diligently toward the criminalization of female genital mutilation (FGM). He successfully underscores the horrors of the procedure by creating a disturbingly credible fictional example. In conversation with friends and family, his central character's feelings and opinions are successfully revealed as she reaches young womanhood, finds love, and flaunts tradition to live with someone of her choice rather than consenting to be paired with an old man who will pay to obtain her as a means of producing offspring. Tadesse's stark, horrifying description of FGM experienced directly by a six-year-old child provides sufficient support for the eradication of this process, which has killed or permanently maimed thousands of little girls. Anyone concerned about this crucial issue should read Tadesse's book for a wide range of well-supported medical, cultural, legal, and psychological facts.

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