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The inspirational voices fighting FGM

Health | By Girl Effect Team

"I just cut it and throw it away," says a Kenyan midwife describing how she performs female circumcisions on teenage girls. The midwife is talking as part of a documentary made by Rural Women Peace Link (RWPL), an NGO that operates in areas of western Kenya that have been affected by conflict.

The video is uncomfortable to watch in places, but it also offers a ray of hope by giving the girls themselves a platform to speak about their experiences of circumcision - or female genital mutilation (FGM), which is the term recommended for use by the World Health Organisation. One girl describes how her father disowned her after she refused to have the operation done.

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, a United Nations-sponsored event that aims to put a stop to this 2,000-year-old tradition, which is still widespread across much of Africa.

Recent events in Uganda show that ending FGM is not as simple as making it illegal. The Ugandan government outlawed the practice in 2010, but thanks to a wall of deeply engrained cultural resistance, the legislation has merely pushed FGM underground.

That's why - as hard as they can be to hear - it's crucial that girls like the ones in Kenya continue to share their experiences and make their voices heard. The stories that they tell are being spread by RWPL and - as the video shows near the end, when some women openly pledge not to subject their daughters to FGM - they are starting to change attitudes.

It's a process that's being replicated elsewhere, too. In another brutally honest account of what it's like to be subjected to FGM, the Guardian recently told the story of how Waris Dirie, a Somalian supermodel, is inspiring girls in her country to speak up. Similarly, Mae Azango, a journalist in Liberia - where as many as two-thirds of girls will undergo FGM - has brought the issue to the fore through her brave reporting.

We all owe it to these girls to do everything we can to bring FGM to an end.

The United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and DFID hosted a Google+ hangout to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.

You can also show your support for ending FGM on Twitter using the hashtag #endfgm

Watch the Rural Women Peace Link about FGM

Read Waris Dirie's inspiring story

Find out more about the work of Mae Azango in Liberia

Read about Barack Obama's FGM legislation

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