She eventually denounces genital mutilation before the United Nations — and becomes its spokeswoman against the practice. By five I knew what it was to be an African woman, to live with terrible suffering in a passive, helpless manner. By this time I was starving and my feet were bleeding. In the morning, I opened my eyes to the burning sun. And so it went for days—days marked by hunger, thirst, fear and pain. I opened my eyes and was staring into the face of a lion.While my father and the rest of the family were sleeping, my mother woke me and said, "Go now." I looked around, but there was nothing to take—no water, milk or food. On a daily level, our camels kept us alive, since the females gave milk to nourish us and quench our thirst, an enormous asset when we were far from water. By the time I was around 13, I had had my fill of these traditions. My nightmare journey began when my father announced he had arranged my marriage. As I pondered what was going to happen next, I heard, "Waris … Even though I had gotten a head start, Papa had tracked me down by following my footprints through the sand. I slumped back against the tree that had sheltered me from the merciless African sun. "I’m ready." The big cat stared at me, and my eyes locked on his. Women are the backbone of Africa; they do most of the work. They have no say, sometimes not even in whom they will marry. If he caught me, I knew that he would make me, marry. I tried to stand, but I hadn't eaten in days, so my weak legs wobbled and folded beneath me.Two supporting characters, Lucinda and a janitor named Neil (Craig Parkinson), undergo puzzling personality changes at the convenience of the plot.A character named Harold Jackson (Anthony Mackie) exists exclusively for Idiot Plot purposes. On and on we continued for hours, until I realized I hadn’t seen him for some time. I kept running until the sun set, and the night was so black I couldn't see. It was during one of these naps that a slight sound woke me. It was as if we were surfing waves of sand; I flew up one hill, and he glided down the one behind me.The film cuts between her experiences as a young girl and what happened in London, where she ran away, lived on the streets and was befriended by a ditzy shop girl named Marylin (Sally Hawkins).Marylin found her a job in a fast food restaurant mopping floors, and that’s where she was "discovered" by the fashion photographer Terry Donaldson (Timothy Spall).