Two Minutes with Waris Dirie

April 6, 2011

A while ago I wrote about Waris Dirie and the work she’s doing in the area of Female Genital Mutilation. Today, Waris stops by for a minute to answer a few questions…

What have you been doing since writing your last book Desert Children? What’s happened/changed since then?

Since Desert Children, I have published two more books, Letter to my mother and Black woman, white country. I have also focussed on the work of my foundation (Desert Flower Foundation). My foundation works on raising awareness on FGM and has been very successful in doing so. Many countries have adopted new laws against FGM, also a a reaction to my research on FGM in Europe that I published in Desert Children. Now, we are focussing on changing the actual situation of women in societies where FGM is practiced by supporting projects that create jobs for women to give them more financial independence and social recognition.

Are your family (in Somalia) now aware of the work you’ve been doing? What were their reactions to it?

They are aware of my work and accept it, although we live in very different worlds and they often have difficulties understanding my motivations and goals.

For a long time FGM has been seen to have a religious and/or cultural backing to it, how do you advocate for issues that have such a religious/cultural importance or backing?

FGM has absolutely nothing to do with religion or culture. It is a practice that seeks to suppress women by trying to basically eradicate female sexuality. People use religion as an excuse, but there is no religion in this world that demands that a girl is mutilated. In fact, many religious leaders have openly condemned the practice. It seems that people’s fear of stopping is often stronger than their religious beliefs.

FGM does not occur in Fiji or in the South Pacific, why is it still important for people in areas where it doesn’t occur to be concerned and to speak out against it? (Especially as we have our own issues such as climate change which is affecting a lot of our islands)
It’s good that people speak our against it even if it does not happen in their societies, because FGM is a violation of human rights AND a crime against children. Children, no matter where they live should have our protection because they cannot protect themselves. It is our responsibility as human beings to fight against this crime everywhere in the world. 

If you could suggest one simple thing to people to do to help the fight against FGM what would it be? 

Help break the taboo that still surrounds FGM. Talk about it. Don’t be afraid to address issues that have to do with sexuality. It is important that these issues are addressed more openly and throughout all societies to fin solutions to this problem.You can more about Waris Dirie’s books in this post.

Thank you so much Waris for stopping by. As a big thank you and to support the wonderful work that many many people are doing in the area of FGM I will donate copies of the books written by Waris to libraries I visit around Fiji. I think books and libraries play a wonderful role in educating people, so this is my very tiny contribution to the work being done. If you have a copy of her book(s) that you wouldn’t mind parting with, please let me know! 

Buy Desert Flower here
Buy Desert Dawn here 
Buy Desert Children here


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