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Born in the Big Rains


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About the Author

Fadumo Korn is the vice president of FORWARD-Germany, an organization dedicated to promoting action to stop FGM. She lives with her husband and son in Munich.

Writer and radio journalist Sabine Eichhorst is the author of Courage to Defend Yourself: Strategies against Sexual Violence and A Long Way Home: A Prisoner of Uzbekistan. Dr. Tobe Levin is collegiate professor at the University of Maryland in Europe and co-founder of FORWARD-Germany.


Beginning with its evocative opening sentence "In the distance, a lion roared, deep and long, dismissing the night" this impassioned, beautifully written memoir is a testament to the possibility of wedding literary prose to sophisticated political arguments. Korn grew up as a spirited girl in an Islamic Somalian nomadic tribe in the late 1960s. At seven she was forced to undergo female circumcision, in which her clitoris and labia minora were removed with crude utensils and her vagina sewn up. After chronic pain, illness and rheumatism set in, Korn went to live with her rich uncle, a government official in Mogadishu, until her circumcision-related ailments became debilitating; she was taken to Germany for medical treatment, and years later her circumcision was undone. Married to a German, Korn became involved in the European campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM). While the bulk of the book is a devastating and swiftly moving account of Korn's tragedy-filled life, it also persuasively argues that health workers must understand the power of traditional customs even as they work to end FGM. Written with German writer Eichhorst, this is a brutally honest, politically sensitive and bold addition to literature on global women's health. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A moving, unsentimental, and informative account of the painful personal experience that inspired, and continues to fuel, [Korn's] work." --People Magazine, Critic's Choice

"This impassioned, beautifully written memoir is a testament to the possibility of wedding literary prose to sophisticated political arguments . . . a brutally honest, politically sensitive, and bold addition to literature on global women's health." --Publishers Weekly, starred review "A UN declaration demands the elimination of FGM. Yet the practice continues because it enforces men's sexual authority but also because women accept it as a cultural marker, a coming of age rite. Fadumo Korn's story limns the interstices of these social and very human contradictions. It is a courageous, deeply sympathetic, and indispensable testament." --Elfriede Jellinek, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Literature "What brings truly sustainable change is the courage of individuals like Fadumo Korn to move from survivors to impassioned advocates for justice. This book helps us all to understand how such a transformation is possible." --Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of UNIFEM "FGM is a trauma as much to the psyche as to the body. This riveting memoir lets readers witness every aspect of a complex and triumphantly successful recovery. Fadumo's past resilience carries over to her inspiring career as a champion of the reproductive rights of girls and women today." --Efua Dorkeeno, Order of the British Empire; Ghanian women's health advocate; and founder, FORWARD - International "Born in the Big Rains begins like a beautifully written work of fiction... but the writing's rich details and driving action belie that this is no tall tale... [Korn's] testament on FGM [is] brave and full of strength."
--Feminist Review

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