Over the years I have come to regard Ayaan Hirsi Ali as something of a hero to me. Her autobiography, “Infidel,” reached me in a way that I can’t quiet explain, and her message remains with me all these years later.
Hirsi Ali was forced into Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by her family when she was a young girl in Somalia. Later, she was forced into an arranged marriage to a distant cousin and fearing a life of subjugation she made the impossible choice to flee her country and family and seek political asylum in Holland.
Many aspects of Hirsi Ali’s are absolutely astonishing, but I most admire her ability to fully integrate herself into all aspects of her adopted country and become a member of the House of Parliament. With this power Hirsi Ali was able to help enact many laws that protect women and girls in Holland from the same terrible circumstances.
A recent article on the AHA Foundation’s blog addresses a major issue in the fight to save young girls from the horror of FGM. At the end of the school year, when most girls are getting ready to go to camp or on family vacations to the beach, girls from areas were FGM is still practiced (you can see a map of countries here) are routinely taken out of the country in order to undergo the procedure in their home country. Many people believe that laws enacted in the United States and in Europe protect these at risk girls, but the truth is it is exceedingly easy to get away with. According to the AHA Foundation, “an estimated 507,000 American girls [are] vulnerable to FGM, a number that is on the rise.”
You can read the article and learn more about the AHA Foundation and how you can help here.
You may also want to check out some recent commentary regarding the debate about male versus female cutting here.
And here’s some info from UNICEF.