Damaris didn’t know what female genital mutilation (FGM) was until she heard the screams of her friends having it done before her. By the time she realised what was happening it was too late.

"I did not know where I was going to be cut. I wanted to run, but... they held me back. I was crying so much. I just wanted to run away to a very far place."

Damaris is from Kenya but this traumatic practice is widespread. In Africa alone over three million girls are at risk each year.

  • FGM is the partial or full cutting of a girl’s clitoris and labia, for non-medical reasons, nearly always on children between four and 12 years old
  • FGM can cause severe bleeding, infection, infertility and even death
  • After having FGM girls are usually taken out of school and forced into early marriage.

It’s an excruciatingly painful practice that denies girls choices they should be free to make, over their body, their sexuality and – ultimately – their life.

After Damaris had been cut she was married off to a much older man who treated her appallingly – regularly beating her and locking her up. As a result of FGM, having sex and giving birth to her baby was agonising. She lived in misery and constant fear. When she became so scared that her husband would kill her baby, she ran away.

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What we’re doing to help

ActionAid works in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somaliland, The Gambia and Uganda to end female genital mutilation.

  • We provide direct support to women and girls who have escaped FGM
  • We help communities to learn and talk about its damaging effects
  • We train women to form Women’s Watch Groups to report cases of FGM.

Joining one of ActionAid’s groups has made a huge difference to Damaris’ life - she now feels safe, supported and is learning practical skills to help her in the future. But reaching these remote communities costs money.

A donation from you today could help us protect and support more girls – through teaching communities about the risks and offering a safe place to seek help.

Please, join the fight to end FGM.

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