Nurse Hana Ismail, who was moved to write a poem with the words "I have a mark that can never be erased" describing the practice of having to take a knife to the scars resulting from female genital mutilation (FGM) to open the way for women in labor, prepares to be interviewed in Hargeisa, Somaliland, a semi-autonomous breakaway region of Somalia, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Credit: Brian Inganga / AP

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Did you know that female genital mutilation (FGM) exists and its an issue that not many people are made aware of? I didn’t know that girl’s privacy and basic human rights are stripped from them between the ages of 0-15 until a couple months ago when I saw an article about it in the Guardian.

Female gential mutilation is a procedure that consists of removing the external female genitalia or sewing it together to prevent sexual intercourse. The girls aren’t even old enough to sign field trip consent forms much less consent to a medical procedure that will leave them with life long side effects. Their families are the ones subjecting them to such inhumane and cruel actions.

It is mainly practiced in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia – where child marriages are very common. Young girls are forced to get their vagina mutilated for the preservation of their virginity, marriageability and enhancement of male sexual pleasure. These young girls (if they survive the procedure) live with excruciating pain and the chance of infertility all to “save” their innocence for their husband.

What people can do to help spread awareness and bring an end to FGM is fund and support frontline activists who are on the ground protecting girls and women from going through this practice.

Gracie Soucy