Breaking the Silence Surrounding FGM

"I don't want to be the victim, but the voice." Ifrah Ahmed survived female genital mutilation — now, she’s dedicating her life to fighting back against the practice.

Anti-female genital mutilation campaigner call for subject to be taught globally

Ifrah Ahmed survived female genital mutilation (FGM) at 8 years old. 98% of women in Somalia aged 15-49 have undergone FGM as reported by UNICEF Now, she worked with director and writer Mary McGuckian to create A Girl From Mogadishu, a film about her journey. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Ahmed sought asylum from her war-torn country in Dublin in 2006. Ifrah Ahmed was a teen in 2006 who had escaped a husband who was 35 years her senior to whom she had been married off by her grandmother. She returned home to Mogadishu, only to find herself in the middle of an ongoing war.

She was originally supposed to go to Minnesota to live with her aunt, but as escaping a place for dear life usually entails, things didn’t go as planned. This includes nearly being pawned off to a human trafficking ring. When she reaches Ireland and takes a medical examination, she feels shame for the looks the doctors give her during the process. Ifrah (played in the film by Aja Naomi King), like many African girls, had been subjected to FMG as a child. Ifrah takes her anger towards her situation and uses it for good. She has been working to help asylum seekers around the world and to help stop the horrible practice of FMG.

As an Irish citizen, Ahmed founded the Ifrah Foundation in 2010 to raise awareness, educate families, lobby the government make the practice illegal. The association offers counselling and treatment to victims suffering physical problems such as constant pain, problems passing urine, problems having sex and problems giving birth. However, cultural barriers and fear of the unknown are preventing many women and girls from using the service. Ahmed hopes to reach the goal of zero tolerance For FGM by 2030.