Fathia says the biggest challenge is dissociating the practice of FGM from religion, and moving it to the category of a choice. “Once people have the choice, and can weigh it against the health risks, it starts to make sense to them. And through this, the idea that children, girl children, women, have the right to whole and complete bodies.”
The latest data from UNICEF and UNFPA indicate that FGM is still prevalent in Djibouti, with 78 per cent of girls and women subjected to the practice. While there is still a significant amount of work to be done, young women like Mariam represent a promising shift in group belief and behaviour. And public declarations against FGM in 2016 and 2017 helped save nearly 1,000 girls from cutting.
“I cannot bring my baby girl back, but I can keep it from happening to others," says Mariam. "I think now we can use the knowledge gained and stop these harmful traditions.”
“I cannot bring my baby girl back, but I
can keep it from happening to others.”