Excerpt:

The first time I heard the term "FGM" I was 12 years old. The ominous acronym began cropping up in overhead conversations around me, in school corridors and on the news. I didn't actively search for an explanation until two years later, when, at the age of 14, I used the first port of call for many teenage girls: my mum.

What I remember from the conversation that ensued was how apprehensive my mother was to open the conversation. She seemed taken aback by the fact that this topic had reared its head so soon. Nevertheless, she sat me down and began a frank conversation: she explained the term "female genital mutilation", along with details about its practice and her own familial experiences.

Having seen the impact that it had had on family members in the past, she and my father were both staunchly against the practice, and she reassured me that it would never be imposed upon my sisters or I. However, it was common within our Somali culture and in other parts of Africa. And yes, it did also happen to girls like me in the UK – even girls that I knew. Needless to say, I was stunned. I felt that I had to take action.


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