I dream about a girl. She is five, or perhaps six, years old. She is black as the night, with wild hair and huge eyes. She is lying on an iron bedstead covered with a green sheet. The room she lies in is dark, cold and empty.
The girl is afraid. She is quivering with fear but staying still otherwise. Only now do I realise why. She is tied down with heavy dark brown leather belts at her wrists and ankles. Her legs are spread wide.
The door opens. Five women come in. She cannot see their faces. Nobody speaks.
One of the women is carrying a white kidney-shaped dish. In it there is a razor blade. The other women have white cloths. The circumciser stands at the foot of the bed in the middle of the room. The women group round her. Nobody says a word.
The circumciser kneels down in front of the girl’s spread legs, puts her little dish on the bed and takes the razor blade in her right hand. Then she moves her hand towards the girl’s genital area.
Suddenly the room is flooded with a stream of light from above. A voice rings out : ‘Don’t do it. Stop! It’s against our religion.’
Then it turn deathly quiet again. The light has disappeared. The circumciser lays the razor blade back in the dish she stand up and slowly leaves the room. The women follow her in silence.
The leather constraints have gone. The girl sits up and finds herself in the middle of a flower-filled meadow. Kneeling next to her is the girl’s mother, saying, ‘It is over. It is over for good.’
Who do people listen to most? Their spiritual leaders, I am convinced of it. Genital mutilation would disappear overnight if the leaders of the world’s religion were to say ‘Mutilation is contrary to the ethical principles of our religious community. Stop doing it.’
No law, no education programme, no political campaign could ever be as effective as a religious leader taking a stand. With only those five words – ‘it is against our religion’ – they could end this horror.
A vision? Perhaps it is only a vision now. I hope it will not stay that way for ever.
Desert children, Waris Dirie, 2005