My name is Lori, and I have a story to share with you. It is one I think you should hear, because it might open your eyes to some of the terrible things that happen in this world. My parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was sixteen years old. I was left heartbroken, and so were my younger sisters, Angela and Sandy who were fourteen and twelve when it happened. I hoped that our grandmother would get custody of us, but she was very old and in poor health. She was our only living relative, but I prayed that she could be our legal guardian for at least the next two years, until I was old enough to care for my sisters myself. Sadly my prayers were not answered.
The state ruled my grandmother was unfit to be our guardian due to her age and health, and as a result we were to be signed over to a foster family of the state's choosing.
It was the worst thing I ever had to explain to my sisters, but they seemed to understand. Sandy asked me if we were getting a new mom and dad. I told her that no one would ever replace mom and dad, but some new people would be taking care of us.
The people the state chose were Danel and Monik Maguloos. They had just recently been made American citizens. They moved here from Sudan and were hoping to start a family.
Monik was infertile, so they elected to adopt. I will never forget the first time we met them. After a state worker dropped off Angela, Sandy and myself, they welcomed us with open arms. Their home was modest, but Danel made a good living as a businessman and was able to provide for us quite well.
I was given my own bedroom, while Angela and Sandy shared theirs just down the hall from me. Danel and Monik were very sensitive about our loss, and were very consoling during our first days living in their home. I learned Monik understood our grief; her mother had died during childbirth, and had lost her sister when she was seven, so Monik understood loss and what it meant to go through life without a parent.
Danel and Monik seemed to be the perfect foster parents for us. I began to believe that our lives could finally start over. That happiness might find us once again. But what happened in the few months following our adoption could only be described as a nightmare.
It all began the night the bathtub started to leak. Sandy was bathing as she did every night, when water began leaking onto the floor. Monik noticed the carpet outside the bathroom was wet, and she came in to investigate.
"Danel! Danel! Help me!" she shouted. Monik shut the water off and then began to lay towels onto the floor to soak up the water.
Danel came into the bathroom, examined the problem, and left. He returned with a tool kit and proceeded to lay putty around the crack in the tub, and sealed the problem for good. A simple remedy, but as he worked, Monik glanced over at Sandy, who sat idly in the tub.
Monik glanced at Sandy, once and then twice, and something seemed to concern her quite a bit. I was watching from the hall, helping soak up some of the flooding water, when I heard Monik order Sandy to open her legs.
Sandy wasn't comfortable with this, but she obeyed. Monik examined Sandy's private parts and was shocked by what she saw.
"Danel!" she whispered. Danel looked up from his work. Monik muttered something to Danel in Sudanese, and he looked concerned as well. Sandy was deeply upset at the way Danel and Monik were reacting to her body, and she covered herself with her arms and looked to be on the verge of tears. Danel and Monik were no longer looking at her, and they began to have a heated discussion. I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying, but they were upsetting Sandy, so I approached them and asked what was the matter.
"Get back to work, girl," Monik said. "This is important."
I was insulted by her tone, which was unusual since they were normally very friendly. Something was terribly wrong.
Danel fixed the tub and Sandy finished her bath, but Danel and Monik did not speak the rest of the evening.
It wasn't until after we were all in bed that I could hear the two of them arguing again. They went on for about a half-hour before I heard Monik going into Angela and Sandy's bedroom. I heard her sternly telling something to Angela. A few minutes later she came into my room.
"What is it?" I muttered, pretending to be sleepier than I was.
"Take off your dress," she said to me.
"What?" I muttered.
"Take off your dress!"
I was frightened. I did as she asked, and pulled my nightdress over my head. I was wearing only my bra and panties, but Monik demanded I remove those as well.
"What's going on, Mama?" I asked timidly
Monik pulled my panties down and told me to spread my legs apart. I was too shocked by her command to disobey her. I did as she asked, and she peered between my legs and looked just as distraught as she did when she inspected Sandy.
Monik stormed out of my bedroom and proceeded to yell at Danel. I was too scared to get dressed, and I spent the rest of the night frozen in my bed, naked.
I eventually learned what was wrong with my sisters' and my bodies, but far too late. The answer was: nothing. We were perfectly healthy young women, but the Sudanese-bred Danel and Monik saw it differently. In their culture, all young girls undergo a procedure called infibulation. It is basically a circumcision for girls. The practice is done to make girls more marriageable, as a Sudan man would be unwilling to marry a woman who wasn't assured to be a virgin and completely faithful.
To ease their future son-in-law's concerns, parents of young girls would make sure their daughters were infibulated at a young age, preferable before puberty. The process involved cutting off the girl's clitoris and labia, and sewing shut the vulva tightly enough to make intercourse impossible. Her vulva would remain sealed until her wedding night when her husband would cut the stitches and consummate the marriage.
A prospective husband could be certain that his bride to be was a virgin and unlikely to ever stray from his bedside if she lacked the anatomy to ever make intercourse enjoyable. This was the norm in Sudan. And apparently, Danel and Monik were unaware that this practice is not performed in the United States.
The days following Danel and Monik's discovery that my sisters and I were uncircumcised, they severely restricted our freedoms. None of us were allowed any time with friends. I was forbidden from dating, though I hadn't done any since losing my parents anyway. Our cell phones were revoked, so we had to make all calls through the house phone which Monik or Danel monitored. And while before we took the school bus to school, now Monik would drive us to and from school and was very agitated if we were not waiting by the school doors when she arrived to drive us home in the afternoon. I couldn't understand Monik's reasoning for her sudden phase of over-protectiveness, but I knew it had something to do with the night the bathtub leaked. All I could do was hope that somehow, something would make Danel and Monik scale back their strict rules and allow us to live our lives like normal American parents would. Unfortunately, something did.
A few weeks later, Monik informed me that we would be having an important visitor in a few days. She did not give us any details, but she demanded that my sisters and I be on our best behavior. Danel had paid quite a price to have the visitor flown in from Sudan, and he demanded that we give her a warm welcome.
Her flight arrived late one night, so Danel left to pick her up from the airport and would bring her home after we were in bed. Monik sent us to bed early that night and told us to get good rest, because we had a big day for us tomorrow. She would not tell us what that was, but if I had known, I would have taken my sisters and myself out of that house the first chance I got.
Sadly, I was completely unaware of what Danel and Monik had in store for my sisters and me. I went to sleep in my sisters' bedroom because they planned to give my room to our visitor. She would spend the night in my room, and early the next morning, she would perform an important ceremony for my sisters and me. We were anxious and apprehensive about what would happen.
"Are we in trouble?" Sandy asked me, as we lay awake in bed.
"No," I said. "Don't be silly."
"I think something bad is going to happen," Sandy said.
"Don't be stupid," Angela said. "Everything will be fine. Won't it, Lori?"
I didn't answer right away.
"Yes," I said, though I was not sure if I truly believed it.
It was past midnight when we heard the car pull into the driveway. Sandy was asleep, but Angela and I heard the front door open as Danel carried several suitcases into the house. We heard an old woman's voice; it sounded terrible, like she was dying. Her footsteps were soft and quiet, which contrasted with Danel's, whose steps were louder and more distinctive.
I heard him lead her into my bedroom, and listened to her sit down on my bed.
"Where are the girls?" I heard the woman say.
"In that room. We mustn't wake them," Danel said.
There was only hushed muttering as the woman got settled into my bed and Danel retired to his bedroom with Monik.
The crack of light that peered under our bedroom door went out, and for the next hour, all I could hear was a faint noise coming from my bedroom, where this strange old woman was spending the night. The noise frightened me. It sounded like a blade being sharpened.
Then there was only silence. Angela fell asleep, but I lay awake for what seemed like hours.
"Girls, wake up."
I stirred under the covers.
"Girls, it's time."
Monik was shaking me. I woke up and saw the sun hadn't even risen yet. Angela looked to be as enthusiastic about waking as me. Monik was very insistent, and pulled us by our arms out of bed to our feet. I walked wearily down the hall to the kitchen, and my sisters followed, but there was no breakfast waiting on the table. Instead, there was the woman, seated in the living room, with a cup of warm tea in her hand. She stared at us without an emotion on her face. She stirred her tea as we waited for her to speak, but she said nothing. Monik was the one to break the silence.
"Girls," Monik said. "This is Aree. She is a gypsy from Sudan, our home country."
"Hello," Sandy said.
Aree did not respond.
"Aree is going to be doing something very important today," Monik said. "You must do as she asks, whatever she asks. Your futures depend on it.
"What is she going to do?" Sandy asked.
"She will make you into women," Monik said. "You will become marriageable and commodities to our family. Danel had paid her a lot of money, so it is important that she has your full cooperation."
"We will," Angela said.
"Good," Monik smiled. "Aree, you may get started when you're ready."
Aree leaned forward.
"I will need my things. Would one of you girls go to my room and bring me my purse?"
Monik looked at me.
"Lori, do as she asks."
I froze for a minute. I wondered why I should do anything for this strange woman who was invading my home.
"Lori," Monik said, sternly. "Go."
I looked at Monik, back at the old woman, and then my sisters. Reluctantly, I walked down the hallway to my bedroom, apprehensively leaving my two sisters in the living room with that odd woman. Inside, I found her suitcases stacked against my closet door. I scanned the room for a purse, but all I saw that resembled a purse was a black tool bag with a handle, resting by my nightstand. I wasn't sure if that was what she meant, so I decided to look at the contents. Cautiously, I reached forward, unzipped the bag and peered inside.
What I saw shocked me. I saw a razor sharp scalpel, a large pair of metal shears, a pair of small scissors, several needles, some metal tongs, pliers, and a spool of black thread. I also saw a large package of bandages, big enough to fill almost half of the bag, as well as strong sturdy rope. I had no idea what possible use she would have for this.
I set the bag back down and looked about the room for a different item that might have been the "purse" she referred to, when I heard Monik's voice.
"Lori," she said.
I turned around in surprise.
"Bring the purse," she said.
I stared at her questioningly. Monik stood in the doorway, holding an old folded up dirty blanket. She looked at my hand, which was still touching the handle of the black tool bag. I realized my arm was frozen in place.
"Pick it up Lori," Monik said. "Aree is waiting."
I took the black bag in my hand and carried it out of my room and down the hall, as Monik walked beside me. My hands were shaking as I felt the weight of the bag bearing down from me. I entered the living room and handed the bag to Aree. She took it from me and lay it by her side.
Aree looked at me, my sister Angela, and my sister Sandy.
"Who wants to be first?" she asked.
None of us said a word.
Aree said nothing. She simply waited for one of us to answer. None of us did.
"Lori will go first," Monik said. "She is the oldest. She should be first."
I was too frightened to say anything to protest.
"Come with me," Aree said. "We will go to the girls' bedroom."
Aree took her black bag and walked down the hall to my sisters' bedroom. Monik took me by the arm and walked with me after her. I took one last look at my sisters, still seated in the living room and very frightened. Danel held them close as Monik led me into their bedroom.
As soon as we were inside, Monik closed the door.
"Remove your clothes," Aree said.
I stood shocked by her command. Monik nodded towards me and I nervously complied. As I undressed, Monik took the blanket she was holding and arranged it neatly over the bed.
After I slid off my nightdress and my bra and underpants were settled neatly on the floor, I stood modestly in the center of the room with my arms covering my body. Aree removed the rope and the pair of shears from her bag.
"Lie down on the bed," she said.
I did as she asked.
I lay with my body perfectly straight, with my arms crossed tensely over my stomach.
"Spread your legs for me," Aree said.
This felt very wrong to me. I was scared. I didn't know how to tell her no, but Monik looked at me and I remembered her telling me to do exactly as Aree asked. I moved my legs slightly apart.
"Wider," Aree said. I moved my legs apart wider.
"As wide as you can go," she said.
By now my legs were spread so wide I was almost doing the splits, but on my back. Aree took the rope and she tied it around my left ankle, firmly into a knot. She cut the rope off the rest and tied the other end to the left bedpost.
She cut another piece of rope off and tied my right ankle to the right bedpost. I was a tall girl, taller than most boys I knew in fact, and I had very long legs, so when I spread them they reached quite a distance. But, being that my sisters' bed was a double, the bedposts were considerably far apart, and consequently, so were my legs.
She was very effective with the rope, because once the knots were tied I found I could not move my legs, even an inch. I lay still as Monik sat down by my side and held me in her arms.
I watched as Aree removed the scalpel and the scissors from her bag and lay them on a metal tray she set on the nightstand. She cut off another piece of rope and placed it in my mouth.
"Bite down on this," she said. "It will help."
By now my heart was racing.
"Is this going to hurt?" I asked.
"Now now, don't make a fuss," Monik said. "Just lay still and soon it will all be over."
I bit down on the rope and clenched it between my teeth.
Aree picked up the scalpel.
"I suggest you blindfold the girl. It will make it easier for her," Aree said.
Monik took a silk scarf from Angela's closet and tied it firmly but lovingly around my head. I was now in complete darkness.
"Is she secure?" Aree asked.
"Yes," Monik said. "You may begin."
The next thing I knew, Aree placed her fingers between my legs, and began to pull apart my labia. Her fingers were cold, but not as cold as the cool metal of the scalpel that she pressed against my skin, just below my clitoris.
Suddenly I felt a terrible pain between my legs. I felt the blade of the scalpel penetrating my skin, as Aree slid it back and forth against my flesh. I felt my warm blood trickle down over her cold fingers, as her scalpel blade systematically moved to cleanly separate my clitoris from the rest of my body.
My teeth sank into the rope as I tried to endure the pain that was suddenly inflicted on me. Tears poured from my eyes and were immediately absorbed by the silk scarf around them.
I felt the scalpel blade slice through the last piece of skin connecting it to my body, as Aree squeezed my clitoris between her thumb and forefinger and plucked it from my body.
I tried to scream, but the rope in my mouth, which I had now bit down upon with full force, had muffled it. Momentarily, I thought that might be for the best, since I did not want to frighten my sisters, who could surely hear me. But I remembered that this fate soon awaited them, and I would never wish this upon anyone in the world, especially them. Maybe if my screams were loud enough, I could frighten them away and they could seek help. Little did I know, Danel was watching them very carefully and comforting them, while making absolute certain that that would not happen.
I heard Aree ruffle through her black bag and remove another tool. I felt the prongs of a pair of pliers grab hold of my left labia. Aree pulled it outward, which was very uncomfortable in itself but it also pulled open the wound of my recently removed clitoris, causing me even more irritation. Monik held me in her arms tightly, and I gripped her hand for support.
As Aree pulled my labia to stretch it, I felt the cold blade of the scalpel once again against my skin. I braced myself for all but two seconds, as Aree proceeded to slice away at my labia, mercilessly cutting away my womanhood. I screamed and screamed; though I soon felt weary as the blood poured from my open wounds onto the blanket. Once she had cut off my left labia, she padded the wound with some bandages before proceeding to cut off my right as well.
I thought I was going to die. Indeed, in Sudan, roughly one out of three girls who undergo infibulation do. But the prospect of marrying a daughter off is too important to a family to ignore, so hiring the services of a gypsy such as Aree is considered a worthy investment.
After most of my labia majora was removed, I felt Aree insert two metal prongs into my vulva, and pull my vagina open. The cold metal stung against my open wounds, but Aree ignored my whimpers as she took her small pair of scissors and snipped away at my labia minora. I cringed and jerked about, but the ropes around my feet held me firmly in place. Monik held me by my torso and prevented me from wiggling around. The pain was worse than anything you could ever imagine. Aree snipped away every last piece of loose flesh from my vulva, pausing every few minutes to apply gauze to soak up the blood.
I waited for the longest moments of my life, praying for this horrible experience to end. For what seemed like an eternity, I felt my flesh being torn from my body, and I could do nothing but lie still and endure the hellish pain.
Time seemed to stand still. The pain throbbed repeatedly, but increased in intensity with every snip of the scissors. The blindfold around my eyes was now soaked with my sweat and tears. My whimpers gradually became quieter as my energy depleted. I began to fade into what seemed like a catatonic state. I didn't move, and while the pain still lingered as terribly as ever, I no longer jerked or attempted to resist, and instead I seemed to become complacent and resigned to my fate. I lay absolutely motionless, and listened to the snipping of the scissors while submissively subjecting myself to the damage that was being done to by body.
At last, the cutting ended, and I heard Aree set the scissors aside and removed the tongs. The massive blood loss was causing me to fall in and out of consciousness, but I was aware enough to know that Aree was still not finished.
I felt the prick of a needle puncturing the wall of my freshly cut vagina, followed by the tugging of thread being woven through the newly created hole. Aree pricked the opposite side of my vagina, and wove the thread through that side as well, and systematically proceeded to sew my entire vulva closed. For twenty painstaking minutes, I felt the sting of the needle travel in and out of my flesh, dragging the thread along after it, as Aree meticulously sealed my vulva closed from top to bottom.
I wondered how I would be able to live like this, How will I pee? What happens when I have my period? Aree left only the smallest hole in the stitches to allow these fluids escape.
I was surprised I was still conscious when Aree finally set the needles and thread aside, and examined her handiwork.
"You needn't worry about this girl any longer," I remember her saying as she examined the stitches. "She will remain a virgin until marriage. I can promise you that."
I heard Monik reply with a thank you before I blacked out.
I don't know how much time had passed, but when I woke up, I was in my own bedroom. I was still naked, but my legs had been tied together from my hips to my ankles. The pain in my vagina burned like an inferno that never died. I could see now; the blindfold had been removed. I tried to move, but it only made the pain worse. I cried out as loud as my weakened lungs would allow me, praying for somebody to ease my suffering.
Monik crept in silently, and I looked at her with pure hatred in my eyes.
How could you do this to me, I glared at her. I trusted you with my life, my family. Oh God, I thought. My sisters. They were next. I had to stop this.
"There there," Monik said, putting a wet washcloth on my forehead. "It's all over now. You were a brave girl, and now you're going to grow up to be a well-mannered woman."
All I could do was cry. Monik wrapped her arms around me and rocked me gently.
"Where are my sisters?" I asked. "Where are Angela and Sandy?"
I felt Monik exhale softly.
"Sandy is in the living room. Angela is in the bedroom with Aree; she's going to start on her soon."
"No!" I cried. "Don't do this!"
"Lori," Monik said. "This is for their own good, just like you got yours for your own good. It's best if you let this go and move on."
"How is this for their own good?" I cried.
Monik looked at me with understanding eyes.
"You'll understand when you're older."
I knew that would never be true.
"Let me see them," I said.
Monik shook her head.
"It wouldn't be a good idea for them to see you now. We don't want to frighten them unnecessarily."
I didn't want to frighten them. But I couldn't let this happen to them.
"Mama, please," I said.
"I'm sorry," Monik said. She leaned over to inspect my wound. Seeming satisfied, she asked if I was thirsty. I replied that I was.
Monik left and returned with a glass of water, which I thankfully gulped down. It was then that I realized I had an incredible urge to urinate.
"I'll have to check with Aree," Monik said.
Monik was gone for several minutes, during which I felt my bladder feel uncomfortably full. With my vulva sewn shut, my urethra was sealed off and I felt there would be no way for my urine to be released. I felt like my bladder would explode.
Monik finally returned carrying a small bedpan, with Aree behind her. Aree set her black back on the nightstand.
"Lift her legs," Aree said, to which Monik immediately obeyed.
Monik grabbed my ankles and pulled my legs high in the air, which put a terrible stress on my newly cut groin area putting me in even more pain.
Aree placed the bedpan next to my buttocks and instructed me to urinate. I could barely hold it a second longer as it was, so I was happy to finally allow myself to release. What happened next was almost as painful as the circumcision itself. My urine released barely a droplet at a time, through the tiny hole Aree left in my stitches. The urine buildup inside me felt like acid burning through my flesh. I cringed and jerked about, and Monik had to hold tightly onto my legs to keep me from thrashing and making a mess.
Fortunately, my urine released too slowly for much of a mess to be made, although a good portion of blood released into the bedpan as well. I lay in sheer agony for four and a half minutes as I waited for my urine to pass through my less than optimal opening.
When I was done, I could not even cry. I was too exhausted and dehydrated.
Monik removed the bedpan, and lowered my legs back onto the bed. She explained to me that urinating was going to be very difficult in the future, but it was something I would have to deal with as a woman. I begged her to remove the stitches, so I could urinate normally. She told me that was not an option. The stitches would remain until I found a husband.
I stared at the ceiling, wondering why this had happened to me. What did I do to deserve this?
Monik picked up the bedpan and carried it over to the bathroom, while Aree took some gauze from her tool bag and wiped the area surrounding my wound. After cleaning it up a bit, she discarded the gauze and picked up her tool bag.
My heart was filled with dread. Angela was next.
Monik returned and gave me a loving hug.
"I have to go. I need to be with Angela now; she will need me there during her surgery."
"No!" I begged.
"I'm sorry," Monik said. "It must be done."
Monik smiled at me sadly and left the room, slowly closing the door behind her.
I had to stop this. I had to do something to save my sisters from this fate. Indeed, what I had done was a temporary solution. I took the scalpel from under my pillow, which I had stealthily removed from Aree's black bag while she was watching me urinate, and I tucked it under the mattress.
Fortunately, Aree had not brought a second scalpel. She returned to my room minutes later, and my body shivered as her cold dark eyes scanned the room, and my naked body.
"Did I leave my scalpel in here?" she asked.
I shook my head.
"Where is it?" she demanded.
"I don't have it," I said.
Aree looked behind the nightstand, and under my bed. She left the room, and returned minutes later with Monik.
"I left in in my purse," Aree said. "She must have taken it; I don't misplace my things."
Monik looked at me.
"Lori," Monik said. "Did you take her scalpel?"
"No," I said.