The Long Summer Holiday Can Mean the Threat of Genital Mutilation For Some Girls

TIME

It was a summer vacation she’ll always remember. At the age of seven, Nimco Ali flew back from Manchester, England, to her parents’ home country of Djibouti. Once there, a woman she recalls as veiled in black — “looking like one of those Dementors in Harry Potter, who suck the souls out of people” — made a cut in her genitals, the practice known as Female Genital Mutilation. When Ali returned to school in Manchester in the autumn she told her teacher what had happened to her in Djibouti, and asked why she thought it had been done. “That’s what happens to girls like you,” she recalls the teacher saying, implying that Ali’s African heritage was explanation enough. “I didn’t feel listened to,” recalls Ali, now 34. “Today, I know that girls in the same situation wouldn’t be dismissed like I was.”

That’s in part because of tough new laws…

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