Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Female genital mutilation and what we’re really talking about beneath the weasel words ‘genital cutting’

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Female genital mutilation and what we’re really talking about beneath the weasel words ‘genital cutting’

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The recent news that a grand jury in Michigan has indicted three people, including two doctors, for female genital mutilation is a welcome development. As the first ever prosecutions of this crime in the United States, the case shines much needed light on an underground human rights abuse that has been going on for too long. Female genital mutilation has been deliberately covered up by those practicing it here or sending their daughters overseas during summer break to be mutilated outside of the law.

Yet, ham-fisted attempts to appear culturally sensitive by the likes of the New York Times reporting on this story will push these issues underground once more. The newspaper’s Health and Science Editor wrote that referring to female genital mutilation as ‘genital cutting’ is less ‘culturally loaded’ and will help to bridge a gap between those who practice FGM and those who campaign against it. In her eyes it’s a case of Africa vs. the West.

As an African who was subjected to FGM, now living in the West, allow me to help bridge that gap by explaining what we’re really talking about beneath the weasel words ‘genital cutting’.

There are five types of female genital mutilation performed on girls from as young as five years of age. Four of them are unarguably mutilation, and the other is designed to symbolize mutilation. I will start with the mildest.

1. The ‘nick’: The girl is held down, her legs pushed apart and a needle is used to prick her clitoris. The incision is similar to a finger prick test for diabetes, blood comes out and the girl is considered ‘cleansed’. Often there is a ritual with a little party to celebrate the procedure.

2. ‘Female circumcision’: The second method in terms of severity is often compared to male circumcision. The hood of the clitoris is cut off, in some cases the tip of the clitoris is cut off, known as clitoridectomy. In this form, an otherwise normally functioning body part is sliced off and thrown out. Disfiguring a little girl’s genitals in this way cannot rationally be considered anything but mutilation.

3. Intermediate infibulation: In the third form of FGM, as much of the clitoris as possible is dug out and removed. The inner labia are cut off and the outer labia are sewn together leaving two small holes for urination and menstruation. In places where this is done without ‘medical intervention’ girls have been known to bleed to death. After infibulation is done it is imperceptible what has taken place when the girl stands up with her legs together, but in the obstetrician’s position it is clearly visible that parts of her genitals have been removed and sewn up.

Sadly, we are only just past half way and female genital mutilation gets worse. No doubt setting out these practices in detail is disturbing but it is crucial that we speak openly about what is taking place rather than shroud it in euphemism so as not to cause offence.

4. Total infibulation: In the fourth type of FGM the clitoris and inner labia are cut off and the outer labia are cut or scraped off too, then sewn up. When the girl stands, even with her legs closed, her genitals clearly look different.

5. Vaginal fusing: In the fifth type of FGM, which is rarely discussed, all of the fourth type is done and then the inner walls of the vagina are scratched to cause bleeding and the sewing is again done. The girl’s feet are tied together in an effort to fuse the two sides of the vagina with scar tissue to close it up. Children can die undergoing this.

It is hard for people outside of communities practicing FGM to understand what is taking place. One example that has stayed with me over the years was a woman in the Netherlands that I translated for. I accompanied her to visit an obstetrician as she was having great difficulty with urination and menstruation. She showed the doctor her genitals after being subjected to the fifth and most severe type of FGM with her genitals completely removed. The stunned doctor asked if she had been burned. He could not believe that what had been done to her was deliberate, he assumed it must have been a horrific accident. But, it was no accident.

It’s for women like her that I started the AHA Foundation as a resource to help women and girls who are truly bridging the gap between worlds and cultures. They are living in the United States under the protection of our laws and Constitution but suffering human rights abuses imported from overseas.

The aim of FGM in all its forms is to control female sexuality. The clitoris is removed to take physical pleasure from sex and reduce the libido. In its more severe forms, involving sewing the genitals up, the aim is to ensure the girl is a virgin on her wedding night. Many women must be surgically re-opened (or simply with a pen knife or razor blade) in order to consummate their marriage.  The consequences of FGM are ongoing psychological and physical harms from infections to fistulas and even death.

Even in its most mild form, the ‘nick’ procedure involves a young girl being held down by her loved ones and a needle poked into one of her most sensitive body parts. The moment this is done the child becomes sexually aware, she can now be a temptation to men, she can destroy her family’s so-called ‘honor’ and must now behave in certain ways around boys to demonstrate her modesty.

The debate around nicking, which had been previously settled, was revived again last year by an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. The authors argued that nicking the vulva or cutting out the hood of the clitoris (FGM forms 1 and 2 above) are less harmful and should be tolerated by liberal societies. These practices, they suggest, are ethically acceptable and not contraventions of girls’ human rights.

Indeed, like the New York Times, these academics argue that referring to modest forms of FGM ‘mutilation’ is culturally insensitive and demonizes ‘important cultural practices’. Yet the meaning of those ‘important cultural practices’ is not examined beneath their ‘ethical lens.’ Notoriously academics and politically correct apologists like them assume any claim of ‘culture’ is by rights a good thing and trumps other considerations.

Seeing as they are so reluctant to critique cultural practices, other than those of ‘powerful, white men,’ I will do it for them. The ‘nick’ symbolizes and communicates to little girls that their natural state is unclean and that pain must be inflicted on their genitals to make them acceptable to their communities.

FGM is the symptom of harmful cultural beliefs that girls and women must be sexually pure, modest and that their bodies exist to breed. Whether it’s justified by being a Muslim, Egyptian, Indian, Jewish, black, a woman or any other category venerated in the identity politics pantheon, these beliefs are not compatible with liberal societies that profess to ensure the human rights of their citizens.

I encourage anyone interested to stop this barbaric practice happening in the United States to contact us – www.ahafoundation.org.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: ‘FGM was done to me at the age of five. Ten years later, even 20… I would not have testified against my parents’

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: ‘FGM was done to me at the age of five. Ten years later, even 20… I would not have testified against my parents’

 

The writer, ex-Muslim, polemicist and former Dutch MP Aayan Hirsi Ali is talking about why no one has been prosecuted in the UK for the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) — despite its illegality for almost 30 years.

“It was done to me at the age of five, and 10 years later, even 20 years later, I would not have testified against my parents,” she states. “It is a psychological issue. The people who are doing this are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts. No little girl is going to send them to prison. How do you live with that guilt?”

Hirsi Ali has a formidable reputation. Exiled many times over, she is still the subject of an Islamic fatwa, or death edict, as a result of writing the globally controversial Dutch film Submission, whose director Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic militant on an Amsterdam street in 2004. The note pinned to his chest with a knife said Hirsi Ali was next.

She has since won a hatful of European awards for promoting freedom of speech; spoken vehemently and divisively against multiculturalism, and confirmed an apparently Right-of-Centre political identity by marrying Leftie-baiting British historian Niall Ferguson, author of Civilisation and The Ascent of Money. Her svelte beauty is often noted.

Today, at 43, she lives in the US with Ferguson, whom she married in 2011, and their one-year-old son Thomas. But motherhood and a new tenure at Harvard have in no way diminished her desire to  provoke. Hirsi Ali backs wholeheartedly the Standard’s campaign against FGM, and the recent pledge of £35 million by the Government to “eradicate the problem within a generation” — but says awareness-raising and throwing money at the issue is not enough.

“The UK is something of an example to the rest of Europe at the moment,” she says. “It is leading on the issue of forced marriages right now, for instance, in terms of legislation and also enforcement. There are some good things. Maybe in the Anglo-Saxon world you sleep for a long time and then wake up and decide to really act, whereas on the Continent they just love to talk about it.

“But the issue with FGM cannot be solved by condemning it — everyone knows it is horrifying, a man-made epidemic and happening right under our noses. What is needed is a mechanism to detect FGM, and that is very, very controversial.”

Last week, the Standard reported that almost 66,000 women and girls living in the UK had suffered some form of genital cutting, often carried out by untrained family members with knives or razor blades, with a further 30,000 thought to be at risk. Freedom of Information requests revealed that more than 2,100 women had visited hospitals or clinics in London as a result of genital mutilation since 2006, and that more than 700 needed further treatment or surgery. A growing problem, FGM is often carried out on UK-born girls at about the age of five or six, though some are younger; and often happens during school holidays on visits to extended family in African countries where the practice is routine — most commonly, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Sudan.

Hirsi Ali believes the only way to stop FGM is to check at-risk girls. An annual visual examination (“there is no need to touch”) by a female paediatrician or nurse would remove from school-age children the burden of telling a teacher or friend. Such a scheme, she claims, would “take the debate to the next level”.

“A detection mechanism like this would be the biggest deterrent because when the family says ‘Our little girl Fatima or Samira is now five or six, and shouldn’t we have her done?’ they will know that they can’t because in September every year, just as the school holidays end, she will be checked.

“You then need one or two prosecutions to set an example. It is the only model I can think of that will work. As long as there is no systematic control, there is no deterrence.”

But of course such an idea will provoke howls of protest. Surely it’s a gross invasion of the girls’ privacy; victimisation of families and communities; a presumption by the state of guilt rather than innocence; humiliating and unenforceable?

Hirsi Ali says she has heard all this before. “And we have to answer to our consciences. What is worse, the cutting itself or the method of detection? The debate has to happen. MPs and the British public have to be given a choice between two options — do nothing and let them be cut and live with it or have a detection system in place that stops it.

“Education campaigns do not work. Just talking to the mothers and grandmothers about why the practice is harmful is not convincing. They just tell their daughters to grit their teeth … The core of the problem for them is, who is going to  marry my daughter if I cannot verify she is a virgin?”

Later Hirsi Ali says FGM is a symptom of the “whole virginity obsession” within largely but not exclusively Muslim communities abroad, and sometimes here. Forced marriage, honour killings and child brides are similar horrors related to a “purity” required in women but not men. “Actually it should be a man’s campaign. Why do they need a virgin? Why do they need a woman whose genitals have been demolished? Is that the only way to express their manhood?”

Hirsi Ali’s past life, her very identity, are themselves matters of some dispute. Born in Somalia, the daughter of a leading figure in the Somalian revolution of the late Eighties, she fled the prospect of an arranged marriage to a man in Canada and instead sought asylum in Holland in 1992. There, she says: “I remember being processed and sent to a clinic because I was a refugee from a certain area, and being X-rayed to check for tuberculosis.”

She became an interpreter for social services, took a degree in political science and rose through the ranks of the Dutch political system; within 12 years of arriving in Europe, she was an MP in the Dutch parliament. Yet two years after Submission and the fatwa, amid questions over her original asylum application, she left Holland for a job at a Right-wing think-tank in Washington. She has since published two memoirs containing fierce criticism of Islam; a New York Times review of the second, Nomad, accused her of “feeding religious bigotry”.

Today Hirsi Ali refuses to talk about her relationship with Ferguson, who has three children with his former wife, British newspaper executive Sue Douglas — other than to say: “It’s fun. We always have fun. We wouldn’t be together if we didn’t.” Press speculation about the couple at the time of their getting together has left a bitter taste, you sense. The 24-hour security she still needs is reportedly paid for in the US by private donors — but must clearly have an effect on the spontaneity of family life.

She had her first child at 41 but says motherhood hasn’t changed the nature of her feminism at all. “The wonderful thing is to enjoy being a mother at this age. I don’t know whether I’d have enjoyed it so much had I been younger. As an older mother you are so much more aware that actually you chose to do this, and in the culture where I come from, it wouldn’t have been a choice but a fact, presented to me, when I was much younger.” Which betrays her non-Western origins more than anything, I think.

“If you’re a [Somali] girl growing up in London, you post your image on Facebook, you have friends and you talk about books and music, you are literally leading the life of the average British girl,” she continues. “And then you become a teenager and your sexuality starts to matter — and you start to become very, very conflicted. Because on the one hand you are aware of yourself as a sexual being, and of television and movies which talk about it in a Western way but on the other you think of yourself as this person who’s had something beautiful and essential taken away from you.”

The physical pain is one thing — but the psychological torment of living with FGM, says Hirsi Ali, speaking from experience, is also ruining the lives of so many girls in London.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Culture ‘Never An Excuse’ To Harm Girls With Genital Mutilation

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Culture ‘Never An Excuse’ To Harm Girls With Genital Mutilation

Human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali reacted to a Detroit surgeon being charged with genital mutilation of a young girl in the ER.

Ali, who was subjected to the grisly practice in Somalia, said Dr. Jumana Nagarwala must be punished for her alleged actions.

She said young girls are taken either overseas or to states without a ban on the practice to have their private parts surgically mutilated.

It’s time to shut all Islamic schools, says anti-radical Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It’s time to shut all Islamic schools, says anti-radical Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Internationally renowned author and campaigner against radical Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, says Sydney’s Islamic schools should be shut down to stop the indoctrination of children.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph Hirsi Ali, who is under constant security protection and lives with the daily fear of being killed by terrorists, said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s weakness in calling out the threat of Islamic fundamentalism risked pushing Australians into the arm of fringe groups, like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali is living with the constant fear of assassination.

“I think the Australian government is not very different from other liberal governments. The Government just wants to be fair but in attempting to do so they end up ignoring the problem fermenting under the surface,” she said.

“They should stop insulting the intelligence of the public by going around saying Islam is a religion of peace.

“The population is thrown into the hands of the populists. It’s not so much that these populists say, it’s this negligence of the establishment parties to address the problem, to recognise there is a problem with Islam.”

Speaking about Islamic schools, where the science curriculum is censored and music and art classes are banned, Hirsi Ali said: “It is child abuse pure and simple. Muslim schools should not be allowed in liberal society.”

Ms Ali said the Turnbull government needed to call out the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.

One of Sydney’s largest Islamic schools, Al-Faisal College in Auburn, has modified the official PDHPE textbook to remove material about reproduction, instead giving credit to Allah.

The Year 9 science teaching material extensively quotes the Koran while students in Years 8-12 are not taught music.

It is child abuse pure and simple. Muslim schools should not be allowed in liberal society — Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The school is named after Saudi Arabia’s former king Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Saudi Arabian ambassador has attended several school functions, but the school claims it does not receive funding from Saudi Arabia.

RELATED

TIM BLAIR: COMPLIANT MUSLIM WOMEN CONDEMNING AYAAN

“Everyone says we allow Christian and Jewish schools but they are different. The Muslim schools are political ideology masquerading as a religion infiltrating the institution of learning, preying on really small children and filling their heads up with these extreme ideas,” Hirsi Ali said.

“These Muslim schools they take opportunity away from the children, they should be banned.”

Referring to issues of radicalisation arising at public schools, Hirsi Ali said the agents who promoted Islamic extremism need to be identified and stopped.

“They want to take over the curriculum. Sometimes they are individuals, sometimes they are organisations or governments like Saudi Arabia, Qatar could be financing these attempts,” she said.

Hirsi Ali grew up as a Muslim in Somalia, where she was forced to undergo a genital mutilation procedure, before seeking asylum in Holland to escape an arranged marriage.

She became involved in politics and collaborated on a film with producer Theo van Gogh about the oppression of women in Islam.

Van Gogh was killed by an Islamic terrorist while cycling to work — his body had a death threat to Hirsi Ali pinned to it.

Hirsi Ali said she has become accustomed to being vigilant about her security and living with the constant fear of assassination.

“I think you kind of get used to it. Sometimes I forget there are things I would like to do that I can’t do because of security,” she said.

Hirsi Ali will visit Australia next week for a series of talks on radical Islam.

At this stage, she has no meetings set up with Australian politicians, although during Tony Abbott’s time as prime minister, she met with him.

Hirsi Ali grew up as a Muslim in Somalia, where she was forced to undergo a genital mutilation procedure.

At its core, Hirsi Ali thinks the political dimension of Islam is not, and will never be, compatible with democracy.

She said religious rituals, like visiting Mecca, not eating pork and fasting during Ramadan, were compatible with a democratic society because they caused others no harm.

“But if you’re talking about the political dimension, sharia and the quest to impose sharia law on society, that is not compatible with democracy, especially if you measure it by the metrics of human rights, freedom and economic prosperity,” she said.

“It’s (sharia law) presented by the radical Muslims as an alternative to democracy.”

Hirsi Ali endorses developing a counter message about freedom and equal opportunity in the face of a radical ideology that seeks to indoctrinate young, vulnerable people.

“Our message, or classical liberals, is about life before death,” she said.

Schoolteacher Mrs A reveals her experiences with radicalism at Punchbowl Primary

“The message of the radical Muslims is all about death and the afterlife. Theirs is a message of death, oppression of women, vilification of jews, they preach intolerance to people of other faiths.”

Knowing what it is to live in fear, Hirsi Ali said Australians, along with Europeans — except the French — and Americans, take freedom for granted and it was a vulnerability.

“When I first came to Holland, for me all these freedoms were brand new. I was stunned and wanted to understand it,” she said.

“The people around me had never known anything else so I think people quickly take freedom for granted and that’s a vulnerability. It’s good to be free but it’s not good to take it for granted.”

em.’ Tony

Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind

Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March are holding another protest. This one is called A Day Without a Woman, in solidarity with those women who have lower wages and experience greater inequalities.

The protest encourages women to take the day off work, avoid shopping other than in small women- and minority-owned stores, and wear red.

The problems being protested against Wednesday—inequality, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity—are all too real for many disadvantaged women, but the legal protections for them are in place here in the United States. Women who are unfairly treated at work or discriminated against can stand up, speak out, protest in the streets, and take legal action. Not so for many women in other parts of the world for whom the hashtag #daywithoutawoman is all too apt.

Around the world women are subjected to “honor violence” and lack legal protections and access to health and social services. According to Amnesty International’s recent annual report, throughout the Middle East and North Africa, women and girls are denied equal status with men in law and are subject to gender-based violence, including sexual violence and killings perpetrated in the name of “honor.”

The relationship between the sexes in Muslim majority countries is inspired and often governed by a mix of tribal, traditional practices and Islamic law. Algerian author Kamel Daoud recently referred to this system as entailing “sexual misery” for both men and women throughout the Islamic world. Daoud favors the full emancipation of Muslim women, yet many commentators criticized him as being guilty of “Islamophobia,” a term increasingly used to silence meaningful debate.

International Women’s Day should be a day to raise our voices on behalf of women with no recourse to protect their rights. Yet I doubt Wednesday’s protesters will wave placards condemning the religious and cultural framework for women’s oppression under Sharia law. As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women—to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression—who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women—female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

The revival of part of the women’s movement, catalyzed by the election of Donald Trump, has deeper roots than can be seen on the surface. Like Wednesday’s protest, a large portion of Western feminism has been captured by political ideologues and postmodern apologists. Rather than protecting women’s rights, many feminists are focused on signaling opposition to “right-wing” politics.

One of the organizers of the Women’s March movement recently tweeted: “If the right wing is defending or agreeing with you, you are probably on the wrong side. Re-evaluate your positions.”

I’m all for dissent, but that “us vs. them” mentality has caused political gridlock, even on humanitarian issues where the left and right should work together. Hostility and intolerance to others’ views have made rational discussion on important issues taboo. A robust defense of universal women’s rights should welcome support from both the left and the right, overcoming domestic partisan divisions in order to help women abroad attain their full rights.

This International Women’s Day, we should protest the oppression of women who have no access to legal protections. We should support those Muslim reformers, such as Asra Nomani, Zuhdi Jasser, and Irshad Manji, who seek to reform Islam in line with full legal equality between men and women. And we should strive to overcome domestic political divisions to defend the universality of women’s rights.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and the founder of the AHA Foundation, which exists to protect women and girls from abuses of the sort described in this article.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam’s incompatibility with Western values and why President Trump is correct in his analysis on Islamic immigration

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam’s incompatibility with Western values and why President Trump is correct in his analysis on Islamic immigration

Ayaan Hirsi Ali an introduction 

It is always best to let a person introduce themselves and the following short bio is from her website.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the most courageous and inspiring people this world has the privilege to know.  Her life’s work deserves our support in whatever way we can give it.  But one of the most important things for us in the West is to listen to her and heed her wisdom (born out of experience).

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder of the AHA Foundation

AHA Foundation Founder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is known as a women’s rights activist, champion of free speech, and best-selling author. She is also known as someone who is not afraid to speak out when she feels it necessary.

Ayaan’s journey began in Somalia in 1969 where, as a young girl, she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). From very early on, she questioned the subjugation of women she saw all around her; while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn’t resist asking, “Must our husbands obey us too?”

Ayaan’s path led her many places, but upon being forced by her father to marry a distant cousin, she fled to Holland and claimed political asylum. Once there, she worked her way up from being a janitor to serving as an elected member of the Dutch parliament. As a member of parliament, she campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, including honor killings and FGM, practices that had followed her fellow immigrants into Holland.

In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh’s chest. This tragic event, and Ayaan’s life leading up to it, are all chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel. She is also the author of Caged Virgin, Nomad and most recently another bestseller Heretic: Why Islam Needs Reformation Now.

Ayaan has shown great courage, risking her life to voice the injustice she sees around her. But she has done more than speak out. Ayaan has channeled her life experiences, and the attention she garnered, towards the AHA Foundation. She took tangible action to protect women and girls from the honor violence she herself and so many others she knew faced.

 

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks on Islam and the Defense of Western Civilization

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks on Islam and the Defense of Western Civilization

Ayaan Hirsi Ali an introduction 

It is always best to let a person introduce themselves and the following short bio is from her website.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the most courageous and inspiring people this world has the privilege to know.  Her life’s work deserves our support in whatever way we can give it.  But one of the most important things for us in the West is to listen to her and heed her wisdom (born out of experience).  In this interview, she discusses sharia law and its incompatibility with Western values.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder of the AHA Foundation

AHA Foundation Founder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is known as a women’s rights activist, champion of free speech, and best-selling author. She is also known as someone who is not afraid to speak out when she feels it necessary.

Ayaan’s journey began in Somalia in 1969 where, as a young girl, she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). From very early on, she questioned the subjugation of women she saw all around her; while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn’t resist asking, “Must our husbands obey us too?”

Ayaan’s path led her many places, but upon being forced by her father to marry a distant cousin, she fled to Holland and claimed political asylum. Once there, she worked her way up from being a janitor to serving as an elected member of the Dutch parliament. As a member of parliament, she campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, including honor killings and FGM, practices that had followed her fellow immigrants into Holland.

In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh’s chest. This tragic event, and Ayaan’s life leading up to it, are all chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel. She is also the author of Caged Virgin, Nomad and most recently another bestseller Heretic: Why Islam Needs Reformation Now.

Ayaan has shown great courage, risking her life to voice the injustice she sees around her. But she has done more than speak out. Ayaan has channeled her life experiences, and the attention she garnered, towards the AHA Foundation. She took tangible action to protect women and girls from the honor violence she herself and so many others she knew faced.

 

Originally posted 2016-06-02 09:15:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Pin It on Pinterest