The unspeakable practice of female circumcision that's destroying young women's lives in Britain


Last updated at 11:57 03 January 2008

The girl is 15 years old but looks much younger. Her face has the fine-boned elegance typical of her native Somalia, but her accent belongs to the streets of East London. She is plainly terrified. That much is clear from the way she avoids eye contact and constantly fidgets in her chair.

"Promise you won't print my name or anything?" she implores repeatedly. "Promise no one will ever know that I've spoken to you? If people in my community find out, they'll say that I've betrayed them and I'll have to run away. And anyway, I don't want my parents to be sent to jail."

With great courage, this British-Somali girl - she asks that we call her "Lali" - is about to describe a barbaric act of ritualised cruelty which has been perpetrated against her. Knowing the danger to which she is exposing herself, her anxiety is entirely understandable.

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Isn't multiculturalism fantastic? - Dave