FGM survivor reveals mental aspect ‘far outweighs’ the physical pain

Survivor of female genital mutilation was told she was going to a children’s party when she was ‘cut’ at the age of seven – and says the psychological impact ‘far outweighs’ physical pain

  • Patricia Ajayi, 51, of Nigeria, has lived in UK for 25 years and underwent FGM at 7 
  • Revealed: ‘The psychological aspect of it far outweighs the physical pains’
  • Suggested she had PTSD from the mutilation and suffered from ‘flashbacks’ 
  • Edna Adan Ismail said it was no longer an ‘African problem’, but a global issue 

An FGM survivor has opened up about the long term impact of the procedure, revealing that the mental aspect ‘far outweighs’ the physical pain.

Patricia Ajayi, 51,  from Nigeria, suffered FGM at the age of seven when she was lured to a relative’s party under the pretence of a children’s party, before moving to the UK at the age of 26 to become a nurse.

Recalling the brutal experience, she said she’d suffered from post-traumatic stress and flashbacks from what had happened to her throughout her life. 

Patricia told the BBC: ‘People talk a lot about the physical aspect of it, but the psychological aspect of it far outweighs the physical pains.’ 

Patricia Ajayi, 51, from Nigeria, said that the psychological aspect of FGM far outweighed the physical pain 

The FGM survivor suggested that she had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks throughout her life 

Patricia found herself the victim of FGM having gone to a relative’s house believing she was attending a party, when she went forced to undergo the procedure. 

Revealing the daily struggle she faced to cope with what had happened, she explained: ‘You start having post-traumatic stress, you know flashbacks of what had happened to you.’

Meanwhile FGM Safeguarding Consultant Angie Marriot suggested that not enough was being done to help existing survivors in the UK.

She said: ‘I get midwives, doctors, nurses, saying well actually as part of booking them into maternity, I ask the question.’ 

Meanwhile FGM Safeguarding Consultant Angie Marriot said she found doctors in the UK had ‘nowhere’ to send survivors for support 

Angie, Patricia and other women sat down for a round-table discussion about female genital mutilation in the UK 

She continued: ‘And when I start to do the risk assessment and looking at the full picture, I’ve nowhere to send this survivor anywhere for support.’

And former first lady of Somaliland Edna Adan Ismail has now called female genital mutilation a global issue.

She said: ‘It’s about time that we face it as a global problem, it’s no longer an African problem.’

Having once been first lady of Somaliland, and then a midwife, Edna now visits survivors and community workers in the UK. 

Former first lady of Somaliland Edna Adan Ismail joined them, calling FGM a ‘global problem, not just an African problem 

Explaining one particularly traumatic moment, she said: ‘I was faced with a woman on the table who was in labour.

‘I was trying to get the baby out through a perineum, through a birth passage that had been so damaged and deformed I didn’t know what to do.’

She added: ‘It brought to the surface my own pain, my own experience, all that I had gone through when this had been done to time at the age of eight.

 ‘And that started my very first revulsion to it.’


The UN estimates that over 200 million girls and women have experienced FGM, which is a life-threatening procedure that involves the partial or total removal of a woman’s external genitalia.   

Girls aged 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, most commonly in Gambia, Mauritania and Indonesia.

The procedure is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.  

Once girls have been cut, they are deemed ready for marriage and taken out of school – but FGM causes health problems and can be fatal. 

FGM became illegal in Uganda in 2010 but continues in secret, according to officials and police.

It is practised by both Muslim and Christian communities and by followers of some indigenous religions. People often believe FGM is required by religion, but it is not mentioned in the Koran or Bible.

In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on eliminating FGM, but it remains legal in certain African countries including Mali and Sierra Leone. 

The practice is illegal in the UK, but according to figures it’s thought around 137,000 girls from Britain are taken to countries that still perform the procedure.


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