Synopses & Reviews
When 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 girls 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 womens 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 Somalias political landscape: her father was a general for the military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, and her family moved in the inner circles of Somalias 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.”
Mirés 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.
"MirÃ©, 'the daughter of a Somali general, a survivor of female genital mutilation, a survivor of an abusive arranged marriage to a relative, now an activist for African girls and women,' brings all these personae together in her memoir. MirÃ© is at her most compelling in her graphic rendering of the harrowing genital procedure performed on her. She studiously avoids politics ('I didn't want to get involved with the north and south politics in Somalia'), but readers unfamiliar with those politics may be disoriented when they impinge, as they do. Bits of MirÃ©'s account border on the ethnographic: chewing qat (leaves and twigs meant to stimulate the mind); a spirit dancer's purification ceremony ; her surprise arranged wedding made 'with the blessings of my family and without my knowledge or agreement.' MirÃ©'s sojourn to America, by way of Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and France, and the saga of making her film, Fire Eyes, are reported more minutely than is engaging. Although the telling is long-winded and the dialogue bland, MirÃ©'s personal, passionate, and persuasive rejection of any cultural defense of female genital mutilation makes compelling reading. 'I own my story, my body, and my voice,' MirÃ© asserts, 'and no one can stop my mission to end the practice.' Her 'mission of speaking out to end the abuse of girls' is well served by her heartfelt account." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In an emerging genre of African women revealing their ordeals, Mirés witnessing sets the gold standard for testimony on an issue most of us lack the courage to face. And she does it not because she wants to but because she feels driven to save a younger generation from the violence that changed her life. This bookI guarantee itwill change yours.” Tobe Levin, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
Praise for Soraya Miré's film Fire Eyes:
"How is it possiblein this day and agethat such vicious brutality can continue to be committed against women? FGM is a horror. The only explanation can be the impotence of the men and women who perform such violence. Subjecting young women to this barbaric act is a vain attempt by the foolish and unholy faiths to subjugate and control women. I hope Soraya Miré's film will inspire individuals around the world to speak out against this mutilation of women." Matthew Modine, Actor/Activist
Praise for Soraya Miré in The Vagina Monologues:
"When Soraya Miré began a reading about the genital mutilation of young girls in Somalia, . . . the theater fell into total silence while she spoke. Gloria Steinem, who was on stage with Ms. Miré, embraced her at the end." "Sisters Getting in Touch with Their Funny Bones," New York Times
Stunning and excruciating yet lyrical. . . . Miré feels driven to save a younger generation from the violence that changed her life. This bookI guarantee itwill 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, Womans Inhumanity to Woman, and Mothers on Trial
“Mirés 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
“In her searing memoir, Miré brings a face and a forgiving, inspiring voice to the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM).” —More
“[A] harrowing yet inspiring memoir.” —Bust
Having experienced firsthand the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM), Soraya Miré reveals the personal violation and immense challenges she overcame. This book is at once an intimate revelation, a testament to the empowerment of women, and an indictment of the violent global oppression of women and girls. This forthright narrative recounts what it means to grow up female in a traditional Somali family, where girls' and women's basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. Forced into an arranged marriage to an abusive older cousin, Miré was also witness to the instability of Somalia's political landscapeher father was a general in the military dictatorship of Siad Barre. 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.” Despite the violations she endured, her words resonate with hope, humanity, and dignity. Her life story is truly one of inspiration and redemption.
About the Author
Soraya Miré is a human rights activist, a filmmaker, and a survivor of and spokesperson against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Her documentary film Fire Eyes, which explored the socioeconomic, psychological, and medical problems associated with FGM on a global scale, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the International Women's Conference in Beijing, the World Population Summit in Cairo, and the United Nations in Geneva and is used internationally as the definitive educational film on the topic of FGM. She has appeared in The Vagina Monologues and has been interviewed on Oprah, CNN, ABC’s Nightline, BET, and NPR. Articles about her activism have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chicago Tribune, Essence, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and Variety. She is the recipient of the United Nations Humanitarian Award. She lives in Los Angeles. Eve Ensler is the author of The Vagina Monologues, a theatrical and publishing sensation that sold more than half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 27 languages. Winner of a Guggenheim and Obie award, she is the cofounder and guiding spirit of V-day, an international movement to fight violence against women and girls. She lives in New York City.