Teenage brides suffer pain and shame of fistula
By Katy Migiro
NAIROBI (TrustLaw) - "Nobody wants a woman who passes stools all the time and smells," whispered Farhiya Mohamed Farah, explaining why her husband divorced her when she was pregnant with their second child.
Farah, developed a hole between her vagina and rectum, causing feces to leak from her body, after giving birth to her first child at age 18 while fleeing gunfire in Somalia.
The condition, known as fistula, affects 2 million women around the world, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
Fistula was virtually eradicated in developed countries in the 19th century, following the discovery of caesarean section.
"People would ask who is making that bad smell, coughing and covering their noses. So I was always isolating myself," she said.
Too poor to buy sanitary pads, she stuffed her underwear with rags. But feces still leaked onto her clothes, forcing her to wash them several times a day. She doused herself in perfume to hide the smell.
A midwife tried to suture the hole four times, without success.
"I was thinking that the rest of my life would be like this until I died," said Farah, now 20, her birdlike frame shrouded in a red headscarf and skirt. Continued...