A young woman who underwent female genital mutilation as a baby and then led a crusade against the practice as an adult, and was nominated this year for the Nobel Peace Prize, is graduating Saturday from the University of Central Florida.

Jaha Dukureh, 28, will be telling some of her story as a guest speaker Saturday at a pre-graduation event at UCF, and then she’ll be walking the stage to receive a master’s degree in nonprofit management.

She told her story through a documentary, “Jaha’s Promise,” and through her work over several years to bring attention and pressure to end the practice of female genital mutation, still widely performed in much of West Africa.

Dukureh also had her story, from her own experience as a baby to her global activism today, detailed in an in-depth feature published this week on UCFToday, the UCF News Service site. Dukureh was born in Gambia and given the mutilation operation when she was a baby, a procedure that involved cutting and sewing together her genitalia. She has suffered from it her whole life, but did not learn she’d undergone the procedure until she was 15 when she was forced into an arranged marriage with an American. She had to undergo surgery in the United States to reopen her.

Dukureh since has divorced him, remarried, had children, gotten a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southwestern State University, and then come to UCF. Along the way, she began her crusade to save other girls from her fate and received worldwide acclaim for it.

She is the founder of the nonprofit Safe Hands For Girls, leading the effort.

This year she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian politician Jette Christensen, who met her at a film festival in her own country, UCF reported.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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