FGM is prevalent in the Amhara region. The dreadful cultural practice is believed to preserve a girl or woman's virginity and make them ‘marriageable.’ Abrahm, who´s 18 years old, lives in Adet town with his mother, father and only brother —in a mud-walled, single room house. A portion of it is partitioned for grain storage and animal shed. The family depends on his father's income, which he earns from farming. On the other hand, his mother works as a female genital mutilator, a business she´s operated for over 20 years.
Abrahm has access to education, health care and good nutrition. When not attending school, he helps his parents to watch after the cattle and carry agricultural equipment to and from the farm, cleaning the compound, and shopping with his mother. Abrahm had a good life. But he had one concern, one that he was determined to address and put a stop to it.
Abrahm wasn´t aware of the harmful effects of FGM, until when he joined the community conversations (CC) groups at school. “I didn’t have any information about female genital mutilation before I participated in our school community conversation sessions,” he said. In January 2022, Abrahm was identified by a She Leads Project facilitator while conducting community conversations at school. Some of the topics discussed during the sessions include; harmful traditional practices, gender based violence, HIV/AIDS, and discriminatory laws.
The sessions Abrahm participated in helped him gain awareness and he took a step to educate his mother. He informed his mother that FGM causes physical damage to the female genital organs, bleeding, severe pain and dislike of sexual intercourse by the victims. Educating his mother wasn't easy, but that was never a reason for him to quit. Abrahm continued to talk to his mother until she finally heed to his teachings. She shared her experience with the school´s CC group and abandoned the practice, which she operated for 20 years.
Abrahm´s mother is no longer a female genital mutilator. She currently earns her income from selling vegetables, eggs, chicken, and seasonal serials. “I am very happy by the intervention and the support provided by my son and the project staff. I thank my son and project staff, the project facilitator and community conversation members for their support in my life. I plan to teach other females performing mutilation,” she said. She also emphasised the need to educate other mutilators to stop the harmful practice. Abrahm is happy to see her mother abandon FGM and he hopes that girls will be free from FGM. “I am happy that my mother is attending coffee ceremonies that take place within my neighbourhood which help her to enhance awareness on FGM,” Abraham said. He plans to educate people on the dangers of FGM and become an advocate of change in his community.