“That sort of thing doesn’t happen in America.”

Padlock and chain on a green wooden door with keyholes
Padlock via Pixabay

The memory exploded in my head in the dark, quiet classroom, and suddenly, a recurring nightmare I’d had for years made sense. In those dreams, the lower half of my body was made of kid’s construction toys, and pieces kept breaking off as I frantically tried to keep myself together. I began sobbing at my desk. The teacher kindly told me to catch my breath in the hallway; she thought I was upset over the images I was seeing in the video. Later, at lunch, my white girlfriends talked about being relieved that sort of thing doesn’t happen in America.

Only it does. It happened to Tasneem Raja. At Mother Jones, Raja shares her story — she was cut as a child — and explains why it’s so hard to stop the secrecy shrouded tradition.

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