Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Desert Flower

Has anyone heard of the Somalian supermodel Waris Dirie? She was discovered in London and became insanely famous in the late 1990s. We just finished watching the movie about her, Desert Flower, and were in tears by the end.

It came out in 2009, and chronicles her life--from being born into a nomadic clan, genitally mutilated at age 3, running away when forced into marriage at 13, ending up London, discovered by a famous fashion photographer while working at a McDonald's, and finally becoming a UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

I remember reading her interview with Marie Claire in 1997, her first about being mutilated. I was in seventh grade and lay curled in bed with that magazine, sobbing and thinking about this woman and the other millions like her that had been disfigured due to cultural superstition. I prayed that night and thanked God for being born a woman in the United States.

We hear stories of atrocities that go on all over the world and I always feel helpless to do anything. The least I can do I blog about it.

Somalian women are mutilated because they are thought of as unclean. The only way to ensure cleanliness and virginity is to scrape away some or all of their genitalia, leaving a tiny opening, and then stitching the surrounding area closed (often times with thorns or whatever is handy). This is done without anesthetic or sterile instruments on girls ages 3 and up. Most girl become infected, many hemorrhage, bleed out and die, almost all are affected the rest of their lives: loss of sexual pleasure, inability to bear children, incontinence, etc.

On the wedding night, it is expected that the new husband cut the girl open with a blade before forcing his way into her.

Female circumcision affects 130 million women world wide, with 6,000 girls mutilated daily. Ninety-eight percent of somalian women are mutilated.

Honestly, I had to take a break while typing this because I thought I was going to throw up. Think of this happening to your daughters or sisters or any woman at all and try not to be sick.

Click here for more information, but be warned - very graphic images
Click here to read about the foundation Waris created. You can donate to her foundation to help stop FGM as well.

No comments: