What is a condom?

Report from the sexual education workshop at the Desert Flower Center Berlin

Day by day, the Desert Flower Team fights to end the cruel ritual of female genital mutilation worldwide, trying to stop this terrible crime against girls and women.
250 million women are affected by this inhumane procedur worldwide!
With our four Desert Flower Centers in Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam, we help women to overcome their trauma.
These women we could not save from FGM on time.
Dr. Cornelia Strunz and her team make them feel comfortable at the Desert Flower Center, and provide psychological support.
Once a month affected women meet at the Desert Flower Center Berlin to get support in our self-help group.
In April 2018 I took the possibility as the Desert Flower Foundation’s project coordinator to participate in the self-help group.
This time Dr. Strunz organized a workshop on contraception.
A very important topic, as it turned out at the end of the day.
The meeting begins with an "icebreaker session". Without white coats and at a very personal level, an atmosphere is created in which our participants feel well and strengthened.
(A Somali translator is always part of the team to overcome all language barriers!)
The lecture begins: with a beamer, the gynecologist shows pictures of contraceptives of all kinds.
Laughter is spreading among the adult women. Many of them are already mothers, but have never heard before about  how to use a contraceptive or how their own body works.
When asked, "What's a condom?", only two women raised their hands reluctantly.
For a woman fortunate enough to grow up in an educated household, this situation is hard to imagine, but for many women, this is the reality.
After the doctor introduces some of her slides, the mood eases, the women become curious and begin to ask questions. The relief is written across their faces: they could finally ask all the questions that have been on their mind for such a long time - but always have been forbidden to talk about!
I am deeply shocked when one of the participants argues that the only woman’s duty in her society is to have children. A woman who uses contraception is said to be unfaithful.
I don’t know what to say or think - from an early age  on we learn that our body belongs to us. At the same time, women live in the belief that they are only good at having children and are not allowed to say no - and not somewhere at the other end of the world, no, it happens in the midst of our society!
One story shocks me in particular: a woman tells of her luck not to be circumcised and yet a man was found for her. But when she did not give birth to a boy, but three beautiful daughters, her husband forced her to undergo the cruel procedure of  genital mutilation – since in his opinion it would be the only way to give brith to a boy! "When my fourth child was also a girl. My husband left me for a younger woman. He left me behind like a worthless piece of meat. Now I'm trying somehow to get through with my four wonderful daughters here! "
I am so angry! How can someone do such a bad thing to these wonderful women and deny them all knowledge about their own bodies and their own rights as human beings and as women?!
There are lively discussions. A calm mood soon spreads and the women start building each other up. Yes, they even make each other laugh!
After visiting the self-help group I am deeply touched by the stories and the fate of the affected women - but also by their inner strength and the strong will to never give up! I admire them for their joie de vivre, their openness, their self-confidence and their courage. Their courage to finally demand their femininity and the medical help that has been with them for so long. They are probably the bravest women I have ever met.
It was wonderful to see that the women in the Desert Flower Center can be helped with medical intervention and that so many girls and women accept this offer. I am so happy to work with such a loving, dedicated and international team!
If you are looking for help or know someone who urgently needs help, then you can visit us at any time.
We're here for you!

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