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This article was originally published in The Huffington Post on August 06, 2015. You can access the original article here:

In February 2013, I wrote a piece here called “We Must Give Them Our Support” about my newfound understanding of the impact of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) on girls and women in the U.S. and a few young people I’d met who were starting a movement to end its practice. This is an update, written to share with you how much has happened, and how much I’ve learned.

Back then, I had been representing survivors of FGM/C for many years and also assisting girls and women trying to avoid being cut, and I was heartbroken by their stories. Those who had been through it told me about the physical pain they had endured along with the psychological wounds they carried related to their trauma, including feelings of fear, betrayal, anxiety, and depression. They lived through forced marriages and domestic abuse, sometimes related to the FGM/C, and confronted ignorance when they sought help from their doctors, therapists, teachers, lawyers, counselors, and law enforcement. They asked me to speak up, and I did, but I also felt in my gut that my voice was not as important as theirs. One survivor, a young woman named Jaha Dukureh, has proven that right.

Jaha* had been through a lot in her young life. Read the full article.