Madina - barely into adolescence - was subjected to one of the most severe forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) - a practice long carried out in many African countries.

She was too young to understand what was happening to her. Like all other young girls in her ethnic Fulani community in Mali, she was required to go through the rite of passage before the onset of puberty.

The practice involves "cutting" a girl's vagina to create a seal that narrows the opening, just wide enough to allow the passing of urine and menstrual blood. Infibulated girls often have their legs bound together for up to four weeks to allow the freshly fused tissue to heal.

"All I know is that I had severe problems immediately after being excised. I remember going through a very agonising cycle of puberty. I remained covered in pain and humiliation," says Madina.

On the International Day of the African Child, the suffering caused by female genital mutilation is under the spotlight with the controversial practice widely condemned by rights and health organisations.

According to the World Health Organisation , there are about 140 million girls and women around the world currently living with the consequences of the practice. The majority of these females are in Africa, where it is routinely done in 28 countries.

An estimated 101 million girls 10 years old and above have undergone varying forms of genital mutilation in Africa. A study by child rights and development organisation Plan International in Mali in 2010 found more than half of all fathers and one-third of mothers wanted their girls excised.