Breaking the silence in the world capital of female genital mutilation

98% of Somali women and girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - the highest prevalence rate of anywhere in the world.

Story highlights

  • The first ever U.S. trial is about to take place and the government is finally taking action to end FGM
  • FGM affects over half a million people on American soil
  • Over 200 million of us around the world and where I live in rural Somalia almost every single woman and girl has undergone FGM

Hawa Aden Mohamed is Executive Director of The Galkayo Center, the Puntland-based partner of international women's group Donor Direct Action. The opinions in this article belong to the author.

(CNN)One of the few positives for U.S. women and girls in recent years has been the increased awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) as an urgent issue which affects over half a million people on American soil. The first ever U.S. trial is about to take place too and the government is finally taking action to end it.

Over 200 million of us around the world and where I live in rural Somalia almost every single woman and girl has undergone FGM. 98% of Somali women and girls have been affected - the highest prevalence rate of anywhere in the world.
    Over 80% of us are cut between the ages of five and nine - old enough to remember what happened to them but not "too old" that we have already experienced too much independence.
    Almost two thirds of us undergo infibulation - the most extreme form, which leaves girls with their labia stitched together following excision of the clitoris.
    This makes urinating and menstruating almost impossible as a girl is forced to do so through a hole the size of a matchstick. That's not to say that any form of FGM is acceptable and it is always a human rights violation.