My sister was six, I was seven. The day I was cut both my sister and I had our hair and nails done. Family had organised a party and brought gifts. Later a group of women entered and I was told my sister would go first and that I had to be strong, I had to be the woman. I was injected to numb the pain, after the cut my ankles were bound so that my movement would not undo the stitches. The local anaesthetic wore off and that’s when the burning began. My mother had fallen under pressure from society and made the choice we’d both be cut, “FGM was part of my life, part of me, part of where I came from”. The complications began a few years later, I did not get my period and had strong abdominal cramps, it turned out that the my menstrual blood had built up as it had nowhere else to go. Six years of pain and operations finally led me to have my first period at age seventeen, but I am still unable to have children.
The 17 year-old went missing from her home in Cheshire. In 2003, her body was found in a river six months later. Her parents had denied her murder but the jury returned guilty verdicts against them both. The couple suffocated Shafilea with a plastic bag after years of abuse and then dumped her body in the river of their hometown. The bright eldest girl had a desire to wear western clothe like her friends, have boyfriends she chose herself and be free to hang with whom she wanted. Tragically for her, the two cultures were on a collision course. In the lead-up to her killing, at 17, she was a victim of extreme violence at her parents’ hands as she resisted their attempts to control her. Shafilea repeatedly refused their calls for and arranged marriage and, in the eyes of her parents, thereby brought shame on the family. As a cry for help, she drank bleach in Pakistan- six months before her death. Ultimately, Shafilea was killed for her resistance. It was an appalling life, but her parents were keen to keep up the appearance of normality and to hide the abuse from the school, social services and police. If awkward questions were asked, the parents would claim they were victims of racial prejudice.
Born Manuel Aguilar in Reynosa, Mexico, in 1965, Antua was 20 when her mother, a devout catholic, forced her to marry a woman, even though Antua knew, deep down, she was a female. Her mother and brothers taunted and punished her for behaving like a girl and having relationships with other boys. In her late teens, they forced her to have sex with a female prostitute in a hotel room and, shortly after that, her mother told her she would be marrying a women in order to fit in with the community and become a real man. After a couple of months the abuse escalated. Her mother forced her to take anti-psychotic medications, and often locked her in her bedroom. When she did make it out of the house dressed as a women,the police frequently targeted her. Antua was raped and burned with cigarettes by police officers in the back of their squad car. In 2005, she fled to canada, where she filed an application for refugee status as a victim of forced marriage and police brutality. Although she is safe, Petrimoulx suffers from depression and anxiety.