Fatu Sillah clearly recalls the day her childhood ended. She was six years old when her mother’s friends invited her to a party with girls from her village near Freetown in Sierra Leone.
“When I got there I saw other girls sitting on the ground crying and I remember the overwhelming smell of a traditional African medicine used to heal wounds. I was taken into the backroom, stripped naked and held down on the ground by six women. I saw the cutter with a small, sharp knife. She said: ‘It will be quick and it won’t hurt that much.’ “