Trembling with fear, an eight-year-old girl sees the knife-wielding figure approaching her, holding the weapon that will be used to cut the most sensitive part of her body.
"I didn't know exactly what was going to happen to me, but after I saw the blade I knew they would definitely hurt me, because that blade is not something to play with, Manika, now 25-years of age, tells The Guardian.
When she was just a child, Manika had her genitals severed in Gambia, a third world country where one would expect female genital mutilation to be rampant. Now in Edinburgh, Scotland, the woman fears returning home as she would have to “finish” the cutting.
However, it is not only the underdeveloped countries where such practices take place. Even in Britain, where it has been outlawed since 1985, families are pooling in their resources bringing in ‘cutters’ for the needful.
"It's a custom that is very much alive, not just in home countries but in Scotland," says Anela Anwar from the Glasgow-based charity Roshni. "People have given us information saying girls are being cut in Scotland or we hear that girls are taken back home to be cut over the summer holidays."
Some ‘cutters‘, reportedly working from expensive private clinics, have come out of major cities including London, Birmingham and Bristol, claims Sarah McCulloch from the Agency for Culture and Change Management. "Wherever communities [that practise FGM] are residing, it is a problem," she elaborates. "Because why would they stop? Why should they stop? What will make them stop?”
As many as 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of being cut in Britain every year, while 66,000 women are living with the effects of genital mutilation, according to the British government.
It is horrifying to note that even the developed United Kingdom has failed to eliminate the menace of FGM. One can only imagine what the situation is like in the rest of the world.
In countries like Egypt, an astounding 91 percent of the female population falls victim to genital mutilation. This is an alarming statistic.
According to WHO estimates, between 100 and 140 million females have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation. The organization says that 91.5 million girls and women above the age of nine are suffering the consequences of this practice. Worryingly, an estimated three million girls in Africa are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.
Back in Britain, a 17-year-old has taken it upon herself to make sure that such mutilation comes to an end.
Fatima Mohamed will spearhead The Guardian's campaign to have FGM recognised as a key government priority. She has called upon the Education Secretary Michael Gove to encourage all the leaders of primary and secondary to spread awareness about the barbaric ritual among young girls in their respective institutes.
"If every single headteacher was given the right information, we could reach every single girl who is at risk of FGM,” she said.
If awareness is spread through the appropriate forums, perhaps the people involved in such practices will realize that it is not only cruel but simply barbaric to make any member of their family suffer through such brutality.