The first time Aminata Soucko, 31 years old, had her period, she spent 20 days lying in bed. "Crying," she adds. "The pain was frightening." Aminata had been sectioned, many years before, the clitoris and labia. It was also sewn. She suffered, as a child, genital mutilation type III, the most aggressive. "In Mali, as in many other countries in Africa, If the rule does not hurt you, it's frowned upon. You must have pains or you will end up marked, "says Aminata.
His daughter is now eight years old, was born in Valencia and is not mutilated. "I was clear from the beginning that I did not want it to happen to him." It was not easy. When Aminata called her mother to tell her she had to listen to the screams. "I was shocked. He told me he had betrayed the whole family. I had to tell her that if she did not promise that I would respect my decision, I would never go to see her in Mali. So he accepted. "
Aminata returned to visit her country when her little girl was six years old. "The women of the town began to speak and to press. To say that something had to be done with the girl. I decided to go on the attack. I gathered them and explained why I did not want to do it: I told them the serious health consequences I would have for the girl. They looked at me like crazy, but they agreed. They put a lot of pressure on me those days, but I pushed them twice. And I returned with my daughter intact. I was lucky. I know cases of mothers who were locked up and tied by their own family until they agreed to mutilate their daughter. "
The majority of girls who are born and grow up in countries where ablation is practiced want to be mutilated. "If you're not, you can have very serious social problems," Aminata explains. Mali is 3,000 kilometers from Spain. It is not necessary to go so far. Thousands of Spanish girls are at risk, today, of being mutilated. Dozens of them, every year, end up being so.
Ana is the fictitious name chosen by a 19-year-old girl from a village in the interior of the province of Girona. She is Catalan, the daughter of Gambians who arrived in Spain two decades ago. When she was little, she was sent to her country "to marry and learn customs," she explains. "My family is Mandinga and they are a group that does mutilation. So, if they send you to get married, you know what that includes. " Ana was mutilated in her parents' country when she was 16 years old. Later she was forced to marry her uncle. She is silent for a while before explaining how she feels. Finally, he whispers: "You can not imagine how much it hurts."
According to data from the Wassu Foundation of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, 65 Spanish girls under the age of 14 were transferred last year to the countries of origin of their parents and did not return. If we expand the margin, according to the same source, between 2012 and 2016, 404 girls were taken from Spain, who have probably been mutilated. Only in the province of Girona (the most exposed to risk) 16 girls did not return after leaving their countries of origin last year, according to data from the Generalitat. In total, in Spain, there are 18,396 girls at risk of ablation, due to their condition as daughters of mutilated and their ethnic origin.
The first anti-ablation protocol was born in Catalonia in 2002 and was updated in 2009. It establishes guidelines to inform and raise awareness among sub-Saharan families through mediators. The medical services must also be informed and alert the Mossos if they see risk. It is the police who inform the judge if one of the girls at risk is going to be taken from Spain and it is decided whether the trip is authorized or not. If allowed, parents should bring a document explaining that, if the child is mutilated, the family will go to jail in
"If they have taken the girls and they have not returned, they are mutilated. Sure, 100%. " Says Yala Diarra, 43 years old, born in Mali and neighbor of Banyoles (Girona) since she was 15 years old, where she mediates between the institutions and the sub-Saharan community. "Of course they are mutilating Spanish girls. It happens every year, "he says emphatically. "Do you see sub-Saharan girls on the street? They're not here. Children yes, but girls are missing. They are still carrying them. And they do not return until they are married, years later. They marry them with sub-Saharan boys born also in Spain. In this way, family reunification is with the husband and not with the parents, whom the authorities can not accuse, "he explains.
Rosa Negre, sub-inspector of Mossos d'Esquadra and head of the Proximity and Citizen Attention Unit of Girona, confirms: "The reality is that female genital mutilation has not been eradicated in girls already born in Spain. What is increasingly controlled is that this mutilation does not take place on Spanish soil. " The last registered case took place in 2013.
Hayat Traspas directs the NGO Save a Girl, Save a Generation: "There are still many mothers who think they should do ablation, which is good for their daughters. That's why they are taken away. " Yala adds: "I would say that there are still a majority of the families that want their daughters to be mutilated. And those who do not want, receive a lot of pressure from the environment and their family in the country of origin. "
Ablation is a tradition that is practiced in 29 countries around the world, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. "The first effect is happiness, because that day you do not have to do anything in the house. It's a party, family and friends come, "explains Hayat. Yala adds: "A woman who is not mutilated is, in the eyes of society, a dirty, masculinized woman, who smells bad, who should not touch food. Men reject it and husbands do not want sex with it. "
"People go to the party and eat and drink, but the moment of the cut they do not see it. The girls are taken to an isolated place. The screams are not heard and the blood is not seen, "says Hayat. The following days pass with the girls immobile and with their legs tied to avoid skipping the stitches. "Many times infections occur, anemia, hepatitis, infection by using the same blade ... The problems reappear with the rule, delivery ...", explains Hayat. "There are women who hurt their whole lives."
"I've never been able to control my urine again," says Ana, the girl taken to the Gambia. "I peed on myself since they mutilated me. And I'm 19 years old".
There are three types of mutilation. Type I partially removes the clitoris; type II cuts the clitoris and labia minora, and type III involves ablation of the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora and partial suture of the vulva.
Each autonomous community with potential risk has its protocol to prevent and avoid ablations. The road map seems clear in all of them, but the implementation and the means to carry it out are still developing.