Swedish girl reveals how she was subjected to FGM at her parents’ request during a promised family holiday to Egypt

12-year-old schoolgirl Farida describes her ordeal in a telephone interview with a journalist from the Swedish broadcaster SVT.
By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

A 12-year-old girl from Sweden has told broadcaster SVT how she was lured to Egypt with the promise of a family holiday but was instead subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) at the request of her parents.

Farida, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told the Swedish broadcaster how the abuse at the hands of those closest to her had left her traumatized and devoid of trust in adults. Her story highlights a growing trend in child abductions by family members to predominantly Islamic countries.

“They said we were going to visit a relative, and it would be a holiday,” the 12-year-old girl said during a telephone interview with an SVT journalist. She had never been abroad before and had been looking forward to the trip.

However, upon her arrival in Egypt, Farida was subjected to the FGM procedure, which involves the circumcision of the external part of the clitoris. It is a practice predominantly adopted in certain but not all Muslim societies. Some hadith texts claim that circumcision ennobles women and consider the practice to be a human act inspired by God.

“I didn’t really understand that there was such a thing as FGM or that it was carried out, so it would have been difficult to stop something that I was not aware of,” Farida told the broadcaster.

She said she felt like a different person when she got home. She explained how teachers at her school had noticed a change in her behavior from a happy and lively girl to one more quiet and introverted.

“No child should have to go through what I went through; it can lead to such terrible things, suicidal thoughts and the like,” Farida said.

She explained how she opted not to report the incident to Swedish police.

“I didn’t want anyone to find out, I didn’t want my parents to end up in prison,” she said. Eventually, Farida fled her family home and now lives under a new identity in protected accommodation, but she said the mental scars of the trauma are still with her and she finds it difficult to trust adults.

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Due to the nature of the incident, as it was both her parents responsible for taking her away from Sweden, Farida’s case was not on the radar of Swedish social services or the authorities. This serves to highlight that many more instances than the 916 confirmed child abductions to predominantly Muslim countries inevitably exist.

Many such honor-related abductions usually involve one parent or family member taking a child from Sweden to a country where they can be raised with a more traditional Islamic upbringing.

Last year, the National Center Against Honor-Related Violence and Oppression in Sweden recorded an unprecedented number of calls regarding honor-related abductions. SVT research suggests as many as 48 percent of such cases involved children being taken to either Iraq or Somalia, while Syria was also high on the list of destinations.

SVT reports that police estimates on the practice of FGM are high across the country, although the conviction rate is extremely low due to the nature of the offense. Almost no children report their own parents, and cases are notoriously difficult to investigate.

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