by Manar Ammar
“I was weeping and called on my mother for help, but the worst shock of all was when I looked around and found her standing by my side. It was her, yes. I could not be mistaken, right in the midst of these strangers, talking to them and smiling at them as though they had not just participated in slaughtering her own daughter just a few minutes ago,” writes Nawal al-Sa’dawi - the influential Egyptian feminist, novelist, physician and international speaker on women issues - in her book The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World.
Sa’dawi was describing her own very real, very horrific experience of female genital mutilation (FGM) or circumcision. The ancient practice is forced on over 140 million women around the world, most notably in Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia, according to UNICEF. FGM aims to keep girls ‘pure’ and to take away their ability to enjoy their own body, all in the name of virtue.