American-born woman who underwent FGM reveals identity to raise awareness

Mariya Taher (Twitter)

In 2015, ABC News interviewed an anonymous American-born woman who had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was 7 years old. In a new interview with ABC News, the woman has revealed herself as Mariya Taher, 33, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident who now works as an activist to end the practice of FGM. “It’s definitely scary to come out with my face on camera,” said Taher. “I don’t want to be judged for having undergone female genital cutting, or viewed as a victim.”

Taher was abroad in Mumbai, India, visiting relatives, when her mother took her to undergo the procedure. “I remember being taken to an old-looking building and going up a flight of stairs and going into the apartment building,” Taher said. “I remember being put on the round and my dress was pulled up, and I remember something sharp cut me.” Taher’s sister would also be cut — and in the sister’s case, Taher said, the procedure was performed on U.S. soil.

In order to combat FGM, Taher has started Sahiyo, an organization that works to educate and engage with communities, and also serves on the Massachusetts Female Genital Cutting Task Force — a group that works to ban FGM through legislation at the state level. While FGM has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996, state-level law gives the state “a better ability to deal with it,” explained Katie Cintolo, a lawyer who also serves on the task force. From 2000 to 2013, the number of girls in the U.S. who have undergone or are at risk of undergoing FGM has more than tripled.

Read the full story at ABC News.


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