kate kendell

Winner of Amnesty International & Salaam DK’s Human Rights Award

”The Secret Pain” is a powerful film against female circumcision, also called Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). But this film includes no terrifying pictures of the actual cutting.According to Amnesty International 6.000 girls are genitally mutilated every single day worldwide, i.e. 2 million girls every year.

The film is an excellent tool for generating debate about this sensitive subject – especially between different generations. Useful educational material can be produced from the broad variety of subjects treated in the film: culture, the role of poverty, the lack of other work for the circumcisers, the role of religion, the mental consequences, and ways to stop this practice.

In Tanzania the film is already being used in campaigns against FGM. “This film will help many Tanzanian women and girls to “break the silence” and work in solidarity to end FGM”. (Tanzanian Media Women Association).

For centuries, a strong belief has prevailed in various African countries and Indonesia that FGM is good and necessary. But the truth is completely the opposite: FGM is actually terribly harmful.

FGM protects the woman and her family against misfortunes caused by their forefathers.
FGM prevents women from being unfaithful, becoming prostitutes, or getting pregnant before marriage.
FGM makes it easier for women to become pregnant and to give birth without problems.
FGM makes the female genital parts more hygienic and beautiful.
FGM prevents the clitoris from growing to the size of a penis, which would prevent penetration.
FGM prevents the clitoris from growing to a size that would prevent a baby being born.
FGM prevents male impotence.
FGM proves that the woman is a good Muslim. It’s a sign of cultural identity.

Circumcised women become prostitutes too. And pregnant before marriage. And are unfaithful.
FGM causes long and dangerous births – often resulting in dead babies and mothers.
It’s anatomically impossible for the clitoris to grow to the size of a penis.
It’s anatomically impossible for the clitoris to prevent penetration.
It’s anatomically impossible for the clitoris to grow to a size that prevents your baby being born.
Men become impotent, even if their wives are circumcised.
FGM often causes a painful and unsatisfactory sex life, harming your marriage.
Cultural identity has nothing to do with FGM. Many tribes do not practice FGM.
The Koran does not prescribe FGM. Both non-circumcised and circumcised women are good Muslims. Many Muslim countries like Iran and Irak do not practice FGM.

Death. Many girls die if the circumcisers cut the large veins close to clitoris by accident.
Many girls die from blood poisoning.
Many contract HIV when the same instrument is used on several girls without being disinfected.
Infections in the urinary system, renal pelvis and genitals.
Involuntary discharge of urine due to infection. The constant smell of urine often leads to divorce.
High-risk births. The labia minora and majora are elastic, and during birth they expand and thus allow the baby to be born. But the scar tissue produced by circumcision is hard and cannot stretch. This often causes the death of the baby or the mother - or both. But as nobody knows that their death is due to a circumcision performed many years before, evil spirits are blamed instead.

Perpetual nightmares about the circumcision.
Post-traumatic stress reactions.
Anxiety attacks.
Loss of confidence in others (How could the people I trust let me suffer so much pain?).
Loss of self-confidence (Other people control me and my body. Why can’t I be in control myself?)
Loss of self-respect (Society does not respect me because of my sexuality).
Mental frustration due to lack of orgasm.
A never relieved gnawing anger.
No desire for the sexual part of marriage, which can harm the relationship.

As they realize that FGM is a terribly harmful practice, a growing number of countries all over the world are implementing laws forbidding and punishing FGM.
THE SECRET PAIN differs from previous films on FGM, among others “The Road to Change” (WHO), “The Day I Never Forget” (Kim Longinotti) and “The Broken Silence” (Esther Heller). These films focus solely on the practice of FGM.
THE SECRET PAIN is a true documentary in the very sense of the word: a personal tale, an existential quest and a human story filled with drama - the very exemplification of the fact that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.