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BOOK: Girl with Three Legs by Soraya Mire

The Girl with Three Legs by Soraya Mire

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 girl’s 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 women’s 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 Somalia’s political landscape: her father was a general for the military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, and her family moved in the inner circles of Somalia’s 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.” Miré’s 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.

The recipient of Human Rights Award at the United Nations. Soraya Miré is a human rights activist, a filmmaker, and a spokesperson against female genital mutilation. She wrote, directed, and produced the film Fire Eyes, the definitive film on FGM. Miré appeared in The Vagina Monologues in London, on Broadway, in Madison Square Garden, and in Los Angeles; she has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Nightline, and other programs; and articles about her have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Essence. She lives in Los Angeles.

“Stunning and excruciating yet lyrical . . . Miré’s 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 book—I guarantee it—will change yours.” —Tobe Levin, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University

“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, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and Mothers on Trial

“Quite simply, amazing. Soraya Miré puts a beautiful face on the tragedy of female genital mutilation and chronicles so clearly why we all, women and men alike, need to hold hands and end the mutually destructive practice of FGM.” —Marci Bowers, MD, specializing in surgical reversal of FGM

Book Details:

Title: The Girl with Three Legs: A Memoir
Author: Soraya Miré; Foreword by Eve Ensler
Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Distributed by Independent Publishers Group
Publication: October 2011, $26.95 (CAN $28.95), Cloth, ISBN: 9781569767139
Biography/African Studies/Women’s Studies, 384 pages, 6 x 9, 18 B&W photographs

Author interview available by request – please contact: Kathryn Tumen,
We would appreciate receiving a copy or tear sheet of any review or mention that you may publish.

Available at bookstores everywhere and through Independent Publishers Group, 814 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610. Toll-free number for orders only: 1-800-888-4741. Visit us online at

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