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  1. ITV Report

'I have to live with this all my life': Dorset woman speaks out about FGM

  • Salimata spoke to our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford - click below to hear her story

Interviewees: Salimata Badji Knight & Emily Wilcox, FGM Helpline Practitioner, NSPCC

A woman from Dorset has spoken out about her experience of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to prevent others from suffering.

It comes on International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, where communities across the world are calling for a zero tolerance approach to the practice.

137,000
women and girls are estimated to be affected by FGM in England and Wales (Source: NSPCC)

Salimata Badji Knight was four when she was taken to Senegal for what she thought was a family holiday.

It took on a much more sinister purpose.

Salimata and dozens of other girls underwent an abusive ritual which left her confused and frightened.

She was threatened to keep quiet.

I still get upset when I talk about it, even today. I have to live with this all my life, until the last day of my life."

– Salimata Badji Knight
Salimata Badji Knight spoke to our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford Credit: ITV Meridian

FGM was made illegal in the UK more than 30 years ago.

It is also against the law to take girls abroad for the practice to be carried out, with a maximum penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

Despite this, for 30 years there was not a single successful prosecution, but on February 1 the courts saw the first conviction for FGM.

Salimata Badji Knight says it's a landmark victory.

Salimata has waived her right to anonymity to encourage more people to work together to stop FGM.

FGM was made illegal in the UK more than 30 years ago Credit: ITV Meridian

It was not until Salimata was much older that she finally confided in a school friend and really began to understand what had happened to her.

She has since become a campaigner.

Salimata's first language is French but she has learned English to help bring her message to a wider audience.

Salimata has now become a campaigner Credit: ITV Meridian

They told us when they cut us, if you ever talk about this you will die. They frightened the life out of me.

"I felt betrayed because I was coming to see my nan and then there's this hidden agenda. I was really shocked."

– Salimata Badji Knight

Salimata will never be a mother because of the after effects of what happened that day.

But she says she will not give up until she sees an end to FGM, which all communities need to understand is wrong.

A dedicated FGM helpline has been set up by the NSPCC Credit: ITV Meridian

A dedicated NSPCC helpline - 0800 028 3550 - has received thousands of calls since being launched.

It offers advice, information and support to anyone concerned that a child's welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation.