Survivor of FGM Champions Change in her Community to Protect Other Girls

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Girl standing in a market

Beatrice, a FGM survivor from Tanzania who is championing change in her community.

Girls should be celebrated and valued – not mutilated. Millions of girls experience a grave violation of human rights every year called female genital mutilation (FGM). The practice represents deep inequalities between men and women, and is linked to harmful gender norms and stereotypes as well as a perceived need to control female sexuality.

Women and girls should have the autonomy and necessary knowledge to be able to make free and informed decisions about their bodies.

Plan International tackles this issue both through advocacy of effective legislation as well as through awareness-raising about the physical and mental harm and long-term adverse impacts that can result from FGM. We actively engage families, communities and traditional and religious leaders in changing attitudes and norms around the practice. We work with them to ensure that FGM is no longer considered acceptable or beneficial and is instead condemned as a human rights violation which needs to be eliminated.

See also: Elders join fight against FGM in Kenya

Girls 14 and younger represent 44 million of the 200 million girls and women alive today who have survived being cut. Beatrice Beatrice*Name has been changed to protect girl’s identity.  is just one of these girls. We would like to share Beatrice’s heartbreaking but inspiring story to show that change is possible!

The story of Beatrice

“When I was 13, it was my turn to undergo FGM. I was so scared I ran away to the church and I hid there for two days. I was crying looking for help but my brother came and forcefully took me back home. My family decided they needed to be tough on me to make sure I had FGM.”

Consent is absent when FGM is performed on girls. Beatrice and many others are forced to undergo the procedure, because in their community it is believed that girls who have not been cut are not eligible for marriage.

After she was cut, Beatrice was told she was an adult and needed to have a husband. At the young age of 13, she had no interest in getting married and wanted to stay in school and said no to the many suitors that came to the family’s home. Unfortunately, in secondary school she became pregnant and her family forced her to marry her boyfriend. Shortly after the wedding, her husband ran away, and Beatrice was left to raise their daughter by herself.

Then one day Beatrice found out about Plan International’s training on FGM, child marriage and girls’ rights, and knew she wanted to take part.

“Now, because of the training I’ve received I’m able to raise awareness in my community about the dangers of FGM and child marriage. I enjoy giving talks about what I have learnt because I don’t want to see other girls suffer the way I had to. I don’t want other girls to drop out of school because of FGM, early pregnancy and child marriage.”

Plan International has seen time and time again the value of empowering young boys and girls to find their voice, and equipping them with knowledge of their rights. Youth are at the forefront of championing change in their communities and we are proud to support them.

See also: How youth are transforming attitudes towards gender in Nicaragua

Beatrice is excited to share what she has learned with others and is already preventing other girls in her community from experiencing FGM. Her brother, who forced her to undergo FGM, did so to earn a dowry for the family. He looked at girls as a source of income. But since her training, Beatrice has been able to raise awareness with her family, especially her brother about girls’ rights and was even able to stop her niece from undergoing FGM.

Beatrice is thrilled she was able to protect her niece and so are we!

Help fund an army of changemakers

Girls have a right to education, but millions of them are denied this right for a myriad of reasons – one of them being FGM. By empowering girls like Beatrice Plan International is striving to achieve a world where no girls are denied their rights and are able to pursue not only their education but a future of their choosing.