Leyla Hussein

Author: Unknown

“Female Genital Mutilation is child abuse”

Leyla Hussein is a Somali psychotherapist, a social activist and anti-FGM (female genital mutilation) activist. She is also a campaigner who fights for gender equality and raises awareness of violence against women and children.

Hussein was born to a wealthy family in Somalia in 1980. She later moved to the United Kingdom, where she furthered her education on therapeutic counselling at Thames Valley University. She is a female genital mutilation survivor and worked at a reproductive health department for 10 years, as well as working with FGM survivors at a female clinic in Waltham. Leyla is best known for being the co-founder of the Dahlia project, a support group for women who have undergone FGM.

“They cut us in order to stop us sleeping around … well, that didn’t work, did it?”

Leyla Hussein is not only an activist but also a comedian - she uses comedy to raise awareness about FGM. She started campaigning after becoming a mother, as she wanted to ensure that her daughter would not undergo the struggles caused by the procedure of FGM the way she had. She is trying to protect her daughter and other women from different generations, because as we know, FGM has a huge impact, both mentally and in terms of career (after these procedures most young girls are forced to follow the path of motherhood and give up on their dreams).

Raising awareness is also one of her aims because it helps educate the population and show the downsides of FGM. Once she had shown the ignorance of people towards this inhumane act, she made a fake petition that was pro- FGM; this petition concluded that the majority of individuals supported it as they did not feel that it was in their place to criticize a foreign culture. Nonetheless, Hussein wants many individuals to realize that these actions taken towards women are not correlated with culture, but actually constitute child abuse.