“A Tiny Cut”: Female Circumcision in Southeast Asia

Via New York Times

I once asked my mother why boys had to be circumcised, but girls didn’t. Growing up in Singapore in the 1990s, it was more common for boys to be circumcised at the age of 7 or 9, where it resembled more of a rite of passage. They were not allowed to eat certain foods, had to wear a kain sarong for less discomfort, and had to be fanned at night to keep dry. My mother said that it wasn't compulsory for girls, and anyway, the procedure was just "a tiny cut" -- something that she felt was neg … [Read more...]

Half the Sky Documentary Revisited: Somaliland

Edna Adan (right), pictured with Diane Lane. Via Half the Sky.

My review of the Half the Sky documentary for MMW last month made little mention of any redeeming aspects of the film. On the whole, I felt that the film was sadly overshadowed by the American actresses—and George Clooney!—who accompanied and provided commentary for the Nicholas Kristof production. It became more about the celebrities than the actual women from around the world—a damning example of exactly how not to discuss the health and well-being of women from around the world.While I sti … [Read more...]

Sarabah Reviewed: Sister Fa and FGM in Senegal

Sarabah follows the life of Senegalese rapper Fatou Mandiang Diatta, better known as Sister Fa, and her quest to address female genital mutilation (FGM)* in her village in Senegal. After releasing her first album and marrying a German PhD student, she found herself in Germany working on her music and wanting to commit to raising awareness of FGM in Senegal, as she herself had undergone the procedure as a child.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RRu6ULvBegSister Fa’s organization, Education S … [Read more...]

Who Will Defend the Defenders? Gambian Activists Face Smear Campaign

Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho are two prominent women’s human rights defenders in the Gambia. They are the executive director and program coordinator of the Gambia Committee for Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), which has been active in fighting for the promotion of gender rights, mainly fighting against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).Recently, both women were arrested and imprisoned by the Gambian government. They were recently released on bail and stand trial s … [Read more...]

FGM in Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky

After watching Moolaadé, I recalled that I had come across a story several months ago of how FGM is combated in Senegal in Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, released in 2009. Kristof and WuDunn devote the thirteenth chapter of the book (chapter: “Grassroots vs. Treetops”) to looking at an organization, Tostan, that works to “empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation” that has cont … [Read more...]

FGM in Sembene’s Moolaadé

Moolaadé, directed by the Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene and released in 2004,tells the story of a group of young African Muslim girls who have refused to undergo a “purification” ceremony in an African village. The girls seek protection (“moolaadé”) from a woman, Colle (played by actress Fatoumata Coulibaly), who finds the practice abhorrent and is sympathetic to the girls’ pleas.  What ensues is a story of impending social change—the intertwining of the media, cultural influence, and a wo … [Read more...]


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