Mariam Doumbia didn’t realise there was anything wrong until she was 22.
She just thought it was how unmarried girls who had never had sex ‘looked’. Then she saw a picture of a woman who had been circumcised – her clitoris cut out, her labia cut off and her vagina sewn up – and knew, in that moment, she had been mutilated. ‘Up until that point, I thought I was normal,’ the 23-year-old said. ‘I thought it was how virgins looked.’
In another part of Mali, a woman sits grabs her granddaughter to better explain her point, taking a fold in the young girl’s underwear between two fingers.
‘I spread their legs and hold the clitoris between my two fingers and cut the tip of it, and it’s all over in a jiffy,’ she says, proudly.