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FGM survivor and counselor Sarian Karim Kamara (YouTube).

Finding herself

Decades after undergoing genital cutting, woman teaches other FGM survivors how to enjoy sex

By WITW Staff on June 23, 2016

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is performed on young girls with the explicit intention of ruining their future enjoyment of sex. Brutal and barbaric as the practice may be, one woman says having been subjected to the cutting didn’t entirely erase her capacity to derive pleasure from sex. And now she teaches other FGM survivors how to experience gratification from a healthy sex life.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Sarian Karim Kamara recalled the horrifying details of her own genital cutting which took place at the tender age of 11 in Sierra Leone. She actually underwent the procedure twice — forcibly both times — because the first attempt was botched due to the cutter’s drunkenness. Now 39, Kamara says she’s learned how to enjoy sex and has even been able to achieve orgasm, even though her clitoris was entirely removed. It took her four years after becoming sexually active to experience her first orgasm, and at age 28, she said, the man who would become her second husband was patient with her, allowing her to better get to know her body — and what she was left to work with. “What I’ve learned, with his help, is how to understand my body,” she said. “He knows my spots, knows what turns me on, and how to engage with me sexually. That really, really helped me.”

Kamara says the same is possible for other survivors, but an openness to explore one’s body in the wake of devastating physical trauma and a supportive sex partner are essential. “Even though the clitoris has been removed, that doesn’t stop us from having full capacity of pleasure during sex,” she explained to HuffPost. “It’s just difficult because you have to engage both physically and mentally.”

FGM continues to be a problem in many African nations, the Middle East and in the United States, as recent reports have shown. An estimated 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM, and Kamara, who now lives in London, has met and counseled many, mostly from African nations. She, however, is very careful about the terminology she uses when working with them, eschewing the word “mutilation” and instead referring to the procedure as “bonda,” the traditional term. Kamara said talking through the experience is key to healing. Once women are ready to move on to talk about sex, she stresses the mental aspects of intimacy, and the necessity of having a caring partner.

Despite her ability to overcome the cutting she was subjected to, Kamara still sometimes laments what happened, and what might have been.

“When I’m really engaged in sexual activity, the pleasure I have,” she said, “I can only imagine if I had my clitoris, what it would be like.”

Watch the video below in which Kamara opens up about her experience:

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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