Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, a leading campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] and violence against women, has announced the release of her first book that captures her inspiring personal journey from training consultant and corporate executive to women’s refuge volunteer and FGM campaigner.
Titled Overcoming: My Fight Against FGM, the book tells the story of how, after taking a break from her corporate job to volunteer for a medical relief charity in Sudan, Ann-Marie met a girl called Fatima in West Darfur who had been ‘cut’ at the age of five and was pregnant at 10, after being attacked and raped by armed militia.
Overcoming draws on the experience of more than 3,000 FGM survivors’ stories as well as meetings with the Pope and several heads of state. The book tells the compelling story of how Ann-Marie leaned on her Christian faith through her darkest moments to build 28 Too Many. After leaving school at 16 to work in a bank, Ann-Marie forged a career in the City, obtained a doctorate in psychology and ran her own business. Despite being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy, Ann-Marie has continued to offer hope to women and girls who, just like Fatima, continue to be at risk from FGM.
Ann-Marie commented: “Overcoming: My Fight Against FGM lifts the lid on a practice that impacts far too many lives. It is my story, Fatima’s story and sadly the story of millions of women and girls who continue to live at risk today.”
Over the last 10 years, 28 Too Many has compiled detailed country profiles for each of the 28 African countries where FGM is practised but not legally prohibited. Ann-Marie explained: “Over time we’ve built a reputation and we are a bit like the ‘Google’ of FGM. 28 Too Many’s reports are used by DFID, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, as well as NGOs around the world.”
After meeting Fatima, Ann-Marie trained in cross-cultural studies, anthropology, gender and development, followed by midwifery and fistula rehabilitation in Nigeria. Following her re-training, Ann-Marie volunteered for a UK anti-FGM charity, and then in a refugee camp on the Somali border in Kenya, before founding 28 Too Many in 2010 to specifically address FGM across Africa and the diaspora. She is supported by Church Mission Society as one of their mission partners.
The process of change has been painfully slow. In 2020 Sudan introduced new legislation outlawing the practice of FGM but this is only the first step on the long road to cultural and societal change. While this means Fatima and her grandchildren are now protected by the law, it is estimated that every year three million women continue to be at risk from FGM in countries where legislation does not exist and the practice of FGM is still considered the cultural norm.
Overcoming: My Fight Against FGM is published by Lion Hudson and is available from 18 June 2021. More information is available at: Overcoming – Lion Hudson
Book launch: Friday 18 June via Zoom