I sway with the wind as a woman. I am free and able to be me. Even those days when work is overwhelming and deadlines are looming, I am free to go outside and take a break. I am free to choose who I will marry or if I will marry.
To understand the extent of Female Genital Mutilation where young girls are unable to choose where they go, who they talk to, have an education or choose what is best for their own lives, one must understand the traditions of many faiths outside western culture.
Female Genital Mutilation doesn’t only take place in developing countries, but also in the western hemisphere. Women are bound in secret by their families to obey and marry young. In preparation for such marriage, FGM occurs. If they retaliate to avoid such acts, they may be killed. They are often taken at young ages in the middle of the night without knowledge or understanding of what has happened to them. Such practices garners disease for women later in life and painful childbearing. There are many countries in Africa and Asia that would like us to understand this is a part of the villages’ tradition in their locale.
Many of these villages are visited by United Nations’ volunteers to educate the elders and foster an understanding that such practices violate the humanity of women. Still in patriarchal areas in developing nations, men are under the notion that FGM practice is the norm and will not disconnect from such practice.
What I have learned from women who have experienced FGM, is we must be sensitive to their culture, speak from respect of that culture to better foster education for the men and women of these developing nations. Now while progress has been made, these practices are still carried out; even in such western cities as London and New York.
I cannot imagine what its like for a woman to go through this. but as a woman myself, it takes courage to stand up and say no more.
The photos shared by photographers at the United Nations is but another way creativity was used to depict the experiences of the young girls who experienced FGM. And through their LENS we understood their courage to choose their own lives.