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K-State Today

April 12, 2012

Human rights activist to speak on female genital mutilation, women's rights April 17

Submitted by Maggie Stephens

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At the age of 13, Soraya Mire’s mother told her the time had come to receive her gift. This gift, one that the World Health Organization estimates 140 million young girls receive worldwide, was female genital mutilation.

Mire, hosted by Union Program Council, will speak about female genital mutilation and its role in women’s rights and child abuse at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in Town Hall of the Leadership Studies Building.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information and a complete list of all UPC activities, visit k-state.edu/upc or call the UPC office at 785-532-6571.

Female gential mutilation intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs by requiring their removal for nonmedical reasons. The procedure is mostly practiced on girls between infancy and age 15 in western, eastern and northeastern regions of Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East and among migrants from these areas. The custom is caused by many cultural, religious and social factors, often rooting in the perception of women’s roles within families and communities. For Mire, it was her rite of passage to womanhood by becoming acceptable to a future husband.

Mire, a Somalia native, shares her horrific experience of the mutilation ritual in the first-person account of a female genital mutilation survivor, "The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir." Her story explains what it means to be raised in a traditional Somali family where women’s human rights are violated daily and the resulting physical and psychological consequences.

The activist and United Nation’s Humanitarian Award recipient is now an international spokesperson against female genital mutilation. Mire wrote, directed and produced the film "Fire Eyes," the exploration of socioeconomic, psychological and medical consequences of the mutiliation. She has appeared in "The Vagina Monologues" in London, on Broadway, in Madison Square Garden and in Los Angeles as well as been featured on "Oprah," "Nightline" and other programs.