Khady Koita

Author of Mutilee, translated into English as Blood Stains. A Child of Africa Reclaims Her Human Rights, and available in eighteen languages, is among the first African diaspora brides to break the taboo not only in speaking up about female genital mutilation but about early, forced marriage, domestic violence, serial pregnancy and other abuses. Khady founded the EuroNet-FGM which won several major DAPHNE grants and then founded La Palabre to educate and shelter girls in Senegal fleeing FGM. Khady is renowned as a passionate public speaker who has been provided a platform by UNICEF, the WHO, and the United Nations in NY at high level panels integrated into CSW conferences. The December 2012 UN General Assembly Resolution to Ban FGM Worldwide was in part the result of her work with present Foreign Minister of Italy Emma Bonino through No Peace Without Justice, described in the memoir Blood Stains. Khady was awarded the Prix de la Citoyenneté in 2007 by the Fondation P& V, Belgium, for her relentless struggle to safeguard the dignity and physical integrity of voiceless compatriots and especially the female children subject to FGM. She has also presented her emphatic opposition to the custom around the world, including in Beijing at the 1995 UN World’s Women’s Conference, in Tokyo as a guest of Women’s Action against FGM – Japan, and at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, where, on November 10, 2010, she presented a bi-lingual reading from her memoir as a guest of the W.E.B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, directed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who endorsed her book. Mutilée was a best-seller in France, Japan, and Russia, the subject of innumerable positive reviews, and Khady herself has been interviewed many times on radio and TV. One of four women portrayed in Kum-KumBhavnan’s film “The Color of Water,” she also appears in Frankie’ Hutton’s documentary “Rose Lore.”

Moreover, Khady is a world leader in the fight against FGM. She founded the EuroNet FGM which united groups working on the issue in fifteen European countries. She has a long career with GAMS in Belgium and France; and, re-elected twice to serve as President of the EuroNet, she succeeded in coordinating that group’s concert of national action plans.

Khady's memoir was bought by nearly 100,000 people in France, and averaged sales of 20,000 in Russia and Japan. Available in English only since 2010, Blood Stains is now being taught in three women's studies departments in courses on African women in Diaspora. She has been invited to speak at US universities in California, Ohio, NJ, NY, MA, and CT, including Mt. Holyoke, Cornell, Brandeis and Harvard. Her audiences consisted of many teachers who must be sensitized to the issues her book presents in order to react if girls at risk are among their students. Other readers have testified to the encouragement she gave them to take action themselves in support of ending FGM. And Khady can take credit for impact years earlier: starting in the early 1990s, her work with GAMS in Paris with PMI in the region Ile de France saw figures drop to nearly zero during the decades Khady was counseling, accompanying immigrants to appointments, and ceaselessly explaining why FGM should end. She continues her work with GAMS and, as founder of La Palabre, she is ensuring a better education and higher quality of life for at-risk girls in Senegal.

Khady's honesty and, above all, her courage deserve honor. The backlash that hits those who speak out against FGM is harsh but Khady has neither buckled nor given up. She is eloquent, determined, convincing, and concerned that she be the last generation to undergo what she had to suffer and what millions continue to endure due to others’ silence.

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