Lilian Teto’s Story: Escaping FGM in Oloitokitok
It is a tale of hope and despair , 11 years old Lilian Teto, a nursery school pupil in Olguluuli village, Oloitokitok will never forget 20th July 2016, the day when she was supposed to be circumcised which was scheduled to take place at their homestead.
Coming from a family eight, four girls and four boys, Lilian knew that she could just go through FGM and thereafter get married like her sisters.
Lilian recalls that day, the day she was to face the knife. Having witnessed the painful process in the village and heard of the long term health implications, Lilian was determined to avoid it.
“I wasn’t ready to be circumcised, my parents were happy that I was to go through the cut,” She disclosed. She comes from a village that really value circumcised girls as opposed to the uncircumcised. According to most practices, when the girl is circumcised, the girl is deemed ready to be married.
“My circumcised friends refer to me as coward, It is quite depressing but this will not make give up the fight” Lilian asserts.
Lilian among the lucky girls who escaped the knife. Many of her friends tried to resist but were forced to go through the cruel act “Many girls in my village are quietly forced to be circumcised,” she says.
Lilian parents were firmly subjecting her to the cruel tradition. Her father would stop at nothing to have his daughter go through this rite of passage. His father was very proud that Lilian will become a woman and he started making plans to marry her off to a man more than thrice her age.
Lilian remembers being scared, she knew how horrible the act was since she had witnessed other girls in her village go through the cut.She said: “ I have heard of girls in my village who have bled to death, others have health complications.” Traumatized and scared, Lilian knew the only way out was to escape. She had no one to confide to, even her relatives could not support her.
When she knew she was about to be cut Lilian escaped from home, e scaping means she had to leave her family, her friends and her home. Lilian took refuge refuge at a nearby school. Through Amref Health Africa Alternative Rite of Passage project, Lilian was among the 300 girls who graduated to womanhood without the cut in a colourful ceremony on 19th August 2016.
She is aware of the damaging health complications of FGM, but her family see it as a prerequisite for marriage. Through Amref Health Africa, girls like Lilian are supported to escape the threat of FGM.
“I don’t want to be circumcised, I want to be educated like Nice Nailantei,” She confirms once again.