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Lions Roar : May 2007
A B AY, 28. Awash Fontale, Ethiopia. Abay was born into a culture in which girls are circumcised before age twelve.When it came time for her circumcision ceremony, Abay said, “No.” Her mother insisted, aruging that an uncircumcised woman would be ostracized and could never marry.When her mother’s demands became unbearable, she ran away to live with a sympathetic godfather. Eight years later, Abay returned to her village and began work as a station agent for CARE, supervising the opening of a primary school and a health clinic and the construction of a well. After five years, she finally convinced one of the women to let her film a circumcision ceremony. She showed the film to the male leaders. They had never seen a female circumcision and were horrified. Two weeks later, the male leaders called a special meeting and voted fifteen to two to end female circumcision in their village. H OWA , 8. Howa’s mother was one of the first women in Awash Fontale to be convinced that female circumcision was a bad practice. Thanks to Abay’s efforts, Howa will be the first girl in her entire family history not to be circumcised. SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 65