When Malaika was 6, she travelled with her family on an airplane for the first time, on a summer vacation to Somalia to see her aunts, uncles and cousins.
While there, she was rounded up with other girls in the village and taken into a stranger’s living room, where her genitals were cut with a razor blade.
Now in her early 20s and pursuing a post-secondary degree, Malaika, who was born and raised in the Ottawa area, says she was told by family members to not speak about the cutting. For about 15 years she kept the secret.
“I just felt really, really lonely,” she says.