• Nitya Kapur

She is A Fighter, A Survivor, An Ambassador

Aicha Abdoulaye Mahamane the woman who conquered genital mutilation, escaped from the shackles of being a child bride, faced sexual and domestic violence, but survived it all.

Aicha Abdoulaye Mahamane is a 34 years old, originally from Niger, West Africa who currently resides in San Jose, CA. She is a client ambassador of Tahirih Justice Center, an Activist of the Human Race, a Mother and a Wife . I had the opportunity to have some minutes of her time with some questions on her past life and her thoughts on how it had shaped her today.

HnC : How would you describe Sexual Abuse ?

AAM: Sexual Abuse to me is stealing the innocence and self worth from a girl or a woman .

HnC : Having grown up in Africa what are some of the cultures you think pose as dangers to the girl child?

AAM: Growing up in Africa, especially in a Muslim background, The girl child is usually not protected; she is simply a possession that is being groomed to get married. Where I come from in Niger, girls as young as 9yrs were married off. Even younger girls were always reminded that they were born to be married off.

HnC : Will you say these cultural practices affected you ?

AAM: For me yes that culture affected my life.

HnC : How ?

AAM: Well, because even though I moved to America between age 17-18, I didn’t know myself and I had zero self esteem, this was because of the so many abuses I had endured in Maryland with a couple I worked for and was constantly trying to please, (that’s a story for another day ). All those traumatic experiences had me feeling bad about myself, which led to depression and eating disorders because I never talked about my bad experiences with a professional that can help me heal . Along the line I eventually got help that I needed through a non profit organisation called Tahirih Justice Center.

HnC: As a survivor, what was your technique to healing?

AAM: I underwent therapy, discussing my pains , worries and learning news skills to deal with them. One thing I know is, once a girl is violated or raped, She will never be the same again. No matter how many years of therapy you go through . You simply learn skills to cope and overcome.

HnC:If you had create change in Africa, what would that be?

AAM: If I had to create change in Africa today, I will empower young girl and work on getting more libraries, well equipped sports centres. I will also let your African girls know they need to love and never settle with anything less because they are worthy of it all.

HnC: Did your past shape you in anyway ?

AAM: Definitely my past shaped me.

An example of that is teaching my 5 year old son , No Means No, and teaching him how to respect spaces and bodies of other people.

HnC: Where do we see you in some years ?

AAM: In some years I plan to have a nonprofit in Africa specially for young girls. I will doing speaking in every state in Niger and Africa about the importance of raising young girls to love and know themselves.and also about not telling girls that marriage is the highest degree they can get.i want to create an orphanage for babies, girls with schools and everything they need .

HnC: What advice will you give to your younger self?

Advice to my younger self will be, Aicha you are loved you are worthy don’t be afraid you will overcome it all.

We want to say a very big thank you to Aicha for taking out her time to share her experiences and inspire others. We love you sis.

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