Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, and we’re celebrating the activists who’ve had huge impacts on the eradication of FGM across the globe. Here are 5 key figures changing the lives of women in their communities…
“FGM is not just being performed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia but… in Europe [too]”
Dr Ann-Marie Wilson was determined that much more needed to be done to eradicate FGM, and so she founded 28 Too Many. The organisation is a UK based, anti-FGM charity working across 28 countries in Africa, but it also focuses on working with diaspora in the UK.
“We often associate female genital mutilation with the horrific physical trauma… But there is less awareness about the psychological trauma that can haunt a woman throughout her lifetime.”
Leyla Hussein is one of the world’s most active campaigners against FGM. An FGM survivor herself, Leyla uses her own experience to formulate social and political strategies for eradicating the practice. As a psychotherapist, one of her major points has been the need for greater psycho-social support for survivors.
“I might never be able to enjoy a sexual experience.”
Mariya Karimjee bravely shared her story of FGM on a This American Life podcast. She brought the underreported issue of FGM in Pakistan into the public realm, and has been sharing her experience of sexual pleasure as a survivor. Her activism is important, as she broaches the taboo topics of sex and FGM in a frank and honest way, normalising the discussion.
“This is child abuse and they need to look at it as that. It is a child protection issue.”
Hibo Wardere is a Somali-born campaigner against FGM, and author of the informative biography Cut: One Woman’s Fight Against FGM in Britain Today. Through her frank account of her own experience of FGM, Hibo has emphasised the fear and control girls are put through at a young age in practicing communities.
“There is no authentic or relevant Islamic evidence allowing FGM in all its forms and the practice is harmful and violates freedom, privacy, health and dignity of the Muslim woman.”
-Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome
Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome has worked tirelessly to delink FGM from Islam. Dedicating a major part of his life to studying relevant scriptures, he has published a number of works which open religious discussions about FGM and provide strategies to organisations for delinking the practice from Islam.
There are many people who have been trailblazing the fight against FGM for years, and each have important messages about how we can end this violation of human rights. To learn more and join the conversation today, follow and use #EndFGM on social media.