I too, would like to share my journey with you all…
We don’t choose the life or social class we are born into and for me, my struggles of living in poverty with a violent father and enduring FGM is a far cry from the life I have now in the leafy suburbs of Cheshire.
Dyslexic and with 2 ‘0’ levels to my name I set about improving my education and grabbing at every opportunity that came my way. With 2 degrees, 31 years as a nurse, midwife and health Visitor I now have my own flourishing Aesthetics business….
Many of us sat here today will have gone through some level adversity, some more than others. Whether it’s surviving cancer, domestic abuse, depression, child abuse they all present us with some kind of challenge and pain.
The domestic abuse for me was far easier to accept growing up, maybe because there was an expiration date to that, however the FGM was harder to accept.
Every day there are girls that are being mutilated and there are 200,000 survivors of FGM but for me to make a difference, if only it’s to save one girl like me then my story that I boxed away for 41yrs is worth sharing.
The last 6 months have been difficult, I’ve had a little girl inside me that I’ve had to reconnect with. 10yr old Khatra that was subjected to a most horrific ordeal, the removal of her clitoris and Labia without anaesthetic, sutured up, only to leave a small opening for urination and future menstrual bleed.
All this so I would be seen as clean, reduce the risk of being highly sexed and promiscuous and to secure my future in order to be marriage worthy.
FGM is child abuse, it’s a way to deny women sexual pleasure FGM is the control of women’s bodies….these cultural beliefs must be challenged.
You may be thinking – this would never happen to me. Well let me take you back to the 1960’s when a woman couldn’t open her own bank account and she had to ask her husband’s permission to have a hysterectomy.
Let me take you back a little further to the early 20th century
When women had to throw themselves under horses and commit crimes in order for their voices to be heard – and for them to be able to vote
Let me take you back one more time…to the late 1900’s when you may be surprised to know that extreme surgeries such as the removal of the clitoris were performed on women deemed ‘neurotic’
And even more bizzarely, the ovary was seen as the cause of female neurosis and removal of the ovaries were performed to ‘cure’ hysteria
This surgery was performed in Britain and the most prominent cheerleader was the English gynaecologist… remember his name … Isaac Baker Brown
So I’ve had a lot of fingers pointed at me saying ‘Well I guess it happens to those back in Africa’ you don’t get that here, we are much more enlightened.’ Well I’m a British girl, lived here since I was a baby, brought up in Scunthorpe
And the reality is that this still happens.
Every school summer holiday, girls like me, innocently believing that they are going on a holiday seeing family, expecting to have a lovely time but not knowing what’s ahead of them…. that this is NOT a holiday and their lives will never be the same again.
The pain of all of this has been a heavy weight to carry but by opening up sharing, educating others, my adversities have become my ally and not my enemy. With the charity, I will be able to focus more on the UK particularly in Manchester, going into communities raising awareness and educating.
We need to challenge the cultural beliefs without demonizing individuals, families and communities. We already have requests from hospitals to go in and educate staff on the emotional and physical impact of FGM
and we are in talks with some schools.
If I look at my 10yr old self and think would I ever be in a position to feel strong enough about what I went through in order to raise awareness and educate….then the answer would properly be no…. but I am!
My name is Khatra Paterson ………….. I am a survivor of FGM
Khatra Paterson is a survivor of FGM. She has lived in the UK since being just a baby and was flown to Somalia aged just 10 years old. What Khatra thought was to be a summer family holiday turned out to be the most horrendous ordeal of her life. Pinned down by strangers with no anaesthtic administered she was subjected to the brutality of FGM.
Khatra owns a very successful aesthetics clinic in the heart of Cheshire and has spent over 30 years in a medical profession, starting out as a nurse. Khatra only opened up about her experience to others just 2 years ago and has since raised thousands of pounds for charity and has become a very proud ambassador of Saverra UK. Savera https://www.saverauk.co.uk – if anyone needs support or advice then Savera UK contact number is 0800 107 0726.
You can find Khatra here –