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A Couple’s Quest to End FGM in Senegal

When Woppa Diallo was 12, her aunt took her to visit a family friend in a village in northern Senegal. Diallo was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), which involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. Diallo harnessed her fury and channelled it into a life of activism. At 15, she founded Amfe, L’Association pour le Maintien des Filles à l’Ecole (the Association for Keeping Girls in School) in Matam, her hometown in north-east Senegal. She is also a lawyer specialising in human rights. Last month, a story she co-authored with her husband, Mame Bougouma Diene, based on her experiences of violence, won the Caine prize for African writing. They are the first pair to win the award since it began in 2000, and the first winners from Senegal. A Soul of Small Places, published in 2022, is a coming-of-age story told against a backdrop of African cosmology, in which spirits and humans coexist.