8,000 girls suffer FMG each day
Each day, more than 8,000 girls suffer the mental, emotional and physical torture of genital mutilation. That’s a United Nations statistic and also the last comment in the film “Desert Flower,” the story of supermodel Waris Dirie, who endured female genital mutilation at age five.
It would be flippant to call Dirie’s life a Cinderella story. Born into a nomadic Somali family, she crossed the desert alone at age 13 to escape marriage to an old man. Discovered working in a London fast food store by a leading fashion photographer, Waris Dirie became an international celebrity and actress in a James Bond movie.
Despite her success, Dirie did not—could not—forget her early girlhood trauma and began to speak out against female genital mutilation. In 1996 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Waris Dirie a UN special ambassador for the elimination of FMG. In this role, Dirie has traveled the globe, participating in conferences and meeting with national leaders, Nobel Prize winners and international stars to draw attention to this human rights violation.
Key facts on FMG from World Health Organization
• Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
• The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
• Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
• An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
• It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
• In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.
• FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.