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Survivors of female genital mutilation say #MeToo

LONDON - The #MeToo campaign against sexual abuse should include the stories of survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM), activists said ahead of a global day on Tuesday to raise awareness about the internationally condemned ritual.

Leyla Hussein, one of the first FGM survivors to come forward in Britain, urged people to use the #MeToo hashtag when posting about the practice on social media on Feb 6, the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

"It's a shame the #MeToo campaign doesn't include FGM," said Hussein, founder of the London-based Dahlia Project, which provides counseling for women who have been cut.

"FGM is a form of sexual abuse, but yet again we've been left out," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

At least 200 million women and girls globally have undergone FGM, U.N. data shows. The ritual, involving the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, is practiced in about 30 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Campaigners say the tradition - often justified for cultural or religious reasons - is underpinned by the desire to control female sexuality. It can cause serious health problems.

Hibo Wardere, a British activist who was cut as a child in Somalia, said both the #MeToo campaign and the global drive to end FGM were about "women having ownership of their bodies."

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