“I have known two kinds of pain. The first, a stabbing between my legs, the second, reliving it to tell my story.” —Soraya MiréWhen Soraya Miré was thirteen years old, the girls on the playground would taunt her, saying she could not play with them—not as long as she walked with three legs. Confused and hurt, she went to her mother, who mysteriously responded that the time had come for Soraya to receive her gift. Miré too soon discovers the horror of the “gift,” female genital mutilation (FGM), whereby a young girl’s healthy organs are chopped off not only to make her acceptable to a future husband but also to rein in her “wildness.”In The Girl with Three Legs, Soraya Miré reveals what it means to grow up in a traditional Somali family, where girls’ and women’s basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. A victim of FGM and an arranged marriage to an abusive cousin, Miré was also witness to the instability of Somalia’s political landscape: her father was a general for the military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, and her family moved in the inner circles of Somalia’s elite. In her journey to recover from the violence done to her, Miré realizes FGM is the ultimate child abuse, a ritual of mutilation handed down from mother to daughter and protected by the word “culture.” Miré’s tale is a dramatic chronicle of the personal challenges she overcame, a testament to the empowerment of women, and a firsthand account of the violent global oppression of women and girls. Despite the horror she experienced, her words resonate with hope, humanity, and dignity. Her life story is one of inspiration and redemption.
Reviews“In her searing memoir, Miré brings a face and a forgiving, inspiring voice to the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM).” —More
“Miré’s personal, passionate, and persuasive rejection of any cultural defense of female genital mutilation makes compelling reading . . . Her “mission of speaking out to end the abuse of girls” is well served by her heartfelt account.” —Publishers Weekly
“Readers will be caught by the urgency of the contemporary cause, rooted in the anguish of one brave woman.” —Booklist
“[A] harrowing yet inspiring memoir.” —Bust
“Stunning and excruciating yet lyrical. . . . Miré feels driven to save a younger generation from the violence that changed her life. This book—I guarantee it—will change yours.” —Tobe Levin, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, and coeditor of Empathy and Rage: Female Genital Mutilation in African Literature
“I could not put this book down. . . . Miré is unstoppable. She does not spare anyone: not herself, not her family, not her culture. . . . The book is an ode to female courage and healing against high odds; it is about the high cost of that courage, which includes being ostracized, death-threatened, impoverished, and treated as a ‘crazy’ woman when she is at her sanest and most heroic.”—Phyllis Chesler, clinical psychologist, feminist icon, and bestselling author of Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and Mothers on Trial
“Quite simply, amazing. Soraya Miré puts a beautiful face on the tragedy of female genital mutilation and chronicles so clearly why we all, women and men alike, need to hold hands and end the mutually destructive practice of FGM.”—Marci L. Bowers, MD, gynecology, pelvic and reconstructive surgery, surgical reversion of FGM
“I recall how Soraya was attacked inside the UN by male African delegates after testifying about FGM. An arm slashed out past the hand-stitched lapels and elegant garments of other delegates, smacking Soraya’s shoulder. The man’s eyes burned with hate: How dare she testify about FGM! How dare she not!” —Wilda Spalding, president, International Human Rights Consortium
Author BiographyThe recipient of the UN's Humanitarian Award, Soraya Miré is a human rights activist, a filmmaker, and a spokesperson against female genital mutilation. She wrote, directed, and produced the film Fire Eyes, the definitive film on FGM. Miré appeared in The Vagina Monologues in London, on Broadway, in Madison Square Garden, and in Los Angeles; she has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and other programs; and articles about her have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Essence.