‘Butchered’: The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans


A woman leaves an FGM clinic in Eastleigh, Nairobi PHOTO/Abdullahi Mire/Al Jazeera

Kenya banned FGM in 2011, but Europeans still bring their daughters to underground clinics there to be cut.

In a “good month”, about 100 girls will be brought by their families to Halima Hirsi’s* underground clinic in Nairobi to be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Families come here from all over the world, willing to pay $150 a time for their daughters to be cut.

“The Somali diaspora are good people for my business,” says Hirsi, 69, the manager of the clinic, who also carries out procedures.

The clinic is located in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi, which is known locally as “little Mogadishu”. It  mostly receives Somali clients from Europe – particularly the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway – and the United States.

Hirsi works with Abdilatif Ali*, a broker or “middle man” who acts as a gateway to the clinic.

“People pay me to identify a clinic to help their young girls,” he explains. “Business is good; sometimes we can attend to over 30 clients a week.”

The parents travel thousands of miles, paying large sums of money, to ensure that their daughters undergo a procedure that can range from losing the tip of the clitoris to having the entire inner and outer labia sliced off and the opening to the vagina sewn up.

While most clients at Hirsi’s clinic opt for the former, it does cater to the latter.

‘It is like butchering a human’

When Amina Duba, now 29 and a mother of five, underwent FGM as a teenager, she was told by her aunties that the rite was going to make her a “complete woman”.

When she was cut, Amina’s vaginal opening was also completely sewn closed. This caused terrible complications when she gave birth to her children, and makes even her monthly period difficult and painful.

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