Mutilated

Mutilated

There are over 125 million girls and women in the world who have gone through female genital mutilation (FGM). Female circumcision is a custom to remove parts of girls' genitals because of cultural beliefs or tradition. Female genital cutting has been widely judged as a procedure against human rights and as a serious violation against women's sexual independence. FGM is done in most of the cases because of the belief of keeping the girl as a virgin for marriage by the cutting and closing of the vagina.Elisabeth Nkere, 17, was supposed to become a wife to a 65-year-old man when she was 11 years old. The tradition of her village was to circumcise the bride before the planned wedding. Members of the family and relatives prepared Elisabeth's body for the ritual of circumcision. They told her not to cry because the cutting would be for her own benefit, to transform her from childhood to womanhood. The father had received animals, 30 kilos of sugar and 20 kilos of fabrics as exchange for his daughter. Elisabeth escaped on the night before her scheduled circumcision. She left during the night and walked for three days through the savannah without food or water. Finally she met a woman who helped to bring her to a girls' safe house, called Tasaru. Elisabeth and 64 other Masai girls have been rescued by this safe house, where they now live in sisterhood. Elisabeth's father ignored his daughter's existence after she refused to get married. After the escape he threatened to kill her if she dared to ever return.  Circumcision has been the fate for over 130 million women. Escaping has been an alternative only for those who have had the courage to leave despite of the threat to life.  The project is on-going and will be carried on in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. The long- term project aims for a publication Right for my body in which circumcised women share their struggles in daily life resulting from an incident which took such a short time, but had irreversible consequences for the rest of their lives.

 

by Meeri Koutaniemi

There are over 125 million girls and women in the world who have gone through female genital mutilation (FGM). Female circumcision is a custom to remove parts of girls' genitals because of cultural beliefs or tradition. Female genital cutting has been widely judged as a procedure against human rights and as a serious violation against women's sexual independence. FGM is done in most of the cases because of the belief of keeping the girl as a virgin for marriage by the cutting and closing of the vagina.Elisabeth Nkere, 17, was supposed to become a wife to a 65-year-old man when she was 11 years old. The tradition of her village was to circumcise the bride before the planned wedding. Members of the family and relatives prepared Elisabeth's body for the ritual of circumcision. They told her not to cry because the cutting would be for her own benefit, to transform her from childhood to womanhood. The father had received animals, 30 kilos of sugar and 20 kilos of fabrics as exchange for his daughter. Elisabeth escaped on the night before her scheduled circumcision. She left during the night and walked for three days through the savannah without food or water. Finally she met a woman who helped to bring her to a girls' safe house, called Tasaru. Elisabeth and 64 other Masai girls have been rescued by this safe house, where they now live in sisterhood. Elisabeth's father ignored his daughter's existence after she refused to get married. After the escape he threatened to kill her if she dared to ever return.  Circumcision has been the fate for over 130 million women. Escaping has been an alternative only for those who have had the courage to leave despite of the threat to life.  The project is on-going and will be carried on in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. The long- term project aims for a publication Right for my body in which circumcised women share their struggles in daily life resulting from an incident which took such a short time, but had irreversible consequences for the rest of their lives.

 

In the traditional Masai culture in Kenya young girls are circumcised in the age of 9 and married straight after the operation. Elisabeth Hkere were supposed to become wife to a 65-year-old man when she was 11 years old. Elisabeth decided to escape the female genitale mutilation and child marriage. The night before the wedding she walked alone for days in the savannah until she came accross a woman who was willing to hide her in her home. After the escape of Elisabeth she was found and brought to a safe house where Masai girls can start a new life without fear or danger of child marriage and female circumcision. "In the safe house Tasaru I have found my new family." Tasaru offers comfort and access to school for 65 Masai girls. On Sundays Elisabeth is walking to the town of Narok for the weekly worship. Elisabeth shares her room with three other girls. Even though the girls don't talk about the memories or the circumcision, they share the consciusness of same experienced painful past. "The easiest is to cry in front of the God." According to the tradition of Masai community the girls belong to home and kitchen. After being able to go to school the Masai girls are able to read and write and seek a better future through their education. Elisabeth's father declined his daughter's existance after she refused to get married. After the escape the father threatened to kill her if she dares to come back to her previous family ever again. Inside of the safe house exists a painting which encourages the girls to fight against the oppression of women.