In order to make our understanding of counselling clear, I should first like to speak from my own experience. For I know how great the hurdle can be for a woman affected by FGM when facing this overpoweringly taboo subject.
When I was trying to communicate my situation, I often encountered people who mostly expressed their own horror rather than putting themselves in my emotional position. This often led to me having to comfort them and also made me feel bad.
That is why I can say today: pity as an expression of personal horror does not help those affected, but rather casts them back and inadvertently gives them the feeling that they are to blame for something!
At the time I would have wanted to meet a person who would encourage me to overcome my shame and make me feel that I could speak about the unspeakable! This requires great trust in the other person. And it requires a special presence and openness from the other person in order to help put an end to the feelings of tormenting silence and the loneliness associated with it.
In this respect we are less concerned with counselling in the conventional sense, but rather with creating meeting places where this trust can grow. Because only a trustful meeting can help to liberate us from feelings of guilt when it comes to questioning our own traditions.
Creating a space of appreciation, compassion and security is indispensable when dealing with affected women.
The process of confronting this topic and touching this taboo is a tremendously important act in the life of an affected woman.
Exchanging views on culturally sensitive topics such as FGM cannot be done without further ado by people who do not have appropriate (previous) experience in dealing with difficult issues. It is therefore our wish to advise all institutions working with people from the countries where FGM is prevalent. We make this possible in the form of further training, lectures and workshops as well as specific offers tailored to the institution requesting advice.