According to Unicef, 97% of all girls in Somalia are circumcised.

One of them is Sadia Allin, who, since she herself was exposed, has worked for girls' rights as Somalia head of the children's rights organization Plan international.

- I was very small and playing outside my house when I was picked up to undergo the procedure.

It was a terrible experience that I don't want any girl to have to go through, she says.  

Now her and other women's stories are being turned into opera by the director and librettist Rebecca Örtman.

On the occasion of International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation, she performs an aria from the upcoming opera Arawelo, as a way to break the culture of silence that surrounds the subject. 

- The opera cannot be closed inside.

It is powerful and strong and it cannot be silenced.

So it's the opposite of keeping quiet and keeping things under wraps, says Rebecca Örtman. 

Created a matriarchy

In addition to stories from Sadia Allin and other women, Rebecca Örtman has taken inspiration from the myth of the Somali queen Arawelo in her libretto.

In the new text, the character talks about his own experience of having been genitally mutilated.  

- She remembers the sound of the drums and how she was pushed to the ground, and she sings out her pain over it.

She wants to save her daughter and escape, she wants to get away from this memory, says Rebecca Örtman.