When the moment finally arrived, Leyla Hussein was asleep. Since July last year, along with her anti-FGM colleagues, she's been tirelessly campaigning to secure the 100,000 signatures necessary to qualify her petition for a Parliamentary debate on Female Genital Mutilation. Then at about 4am on Friday morning, the campaign finally crossed that particular finishing line.
'I tried staying up but it got really late and when I woke Twitter was going crazy with people saying congratulations,' Hussein says. 'It's been incredibly emotional. I've cried a lot. I meet with survivors every week and we discuss how we can live with the scars of FGM. Because you can't get rid of them, they're always there. You just have to learn how to live with it. But we won't let it take control of our lives. That's part of what the petition's about - claiming back control.'
FGM is the mutilation of the genitalia of young women and girls for non-medical reasons. It is a practice condemned by the UN and virtually every major international human rights organisation. It has been a crime in the UK since 1985. However, despite the fact that many thousands of girls in the UK have been mutilated, there has not been a single prosecution. This glaring failure is one of the central drivers of Hussein's campaign.