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Première partie d’un article du Daily Mail, traduit et synthétisé en français par Pauline ARRIGHI.
Pour les anglophones, l’extrait de l’article est produit ci-après.
Le 2 juillet dernier est sorti le nouveau livre de Waris Dirie, militante anti-excision et ancienne top model somalienne. Il s’intitule Saving Safa ; Rescuing a Little Girl from FGM. [« Sauvez Safa, le sauvetage d’une petite fille des mutilations génitales féminines. »]
Waris Dirie, dans son autobiographie Fleur du désert parue en 2009, retraçait son parcours hors du commun. A 13 ans, alors qu’elle vit dans une communauté nomade de Somalie, elle est victime d’une mutilation sexuelle qui lui fait frôler la mort. « Je n’étais alors qu’une enfant, mais j’avais l’intime conviction que ce que je vivais était injuste. J’ai pris la décision qu’un jour, sans savoir où, quand et comment, je me battrai contre ce crime ».
Lorsque son père prévoit de la marier à un homme de 60 ans, elle part se réfugier auprès de membres de sa famille à Mogadiscio, la capitale somalienne, puis à Londres où elle entame une carrière de mannequin.
A 49 ans, elle crée la fondation Fleur du désert. « Environ 30 millions de filles rien qu’en Afrique sont actuellement menacées d’excision. J’ai décidé de sauver un million de ces belles petites filles innocentes ».
Le livre a été adapté au cinéma la même année, dans un film également intitulé Fleur du désert. La jeune actrice qui joue le rôle de Waris Dirie enfant, Safa Idriss Nour, était sensée être protégée de la menace de l’excision : ses parents ont signé un contrat et touché de l’argent en s’engageant à ne pas lui faire subir cette torture. Pourtant, 4 ans après le tournage du film, il s’est avéré que sa famille avait été rejetée de la communauté et que son père était sur le point de céder aux pressions. La militante somalienne a sur le champ été rencontré les parents de la jeune fille et a réussi à les convaincre de l’épargner.
Pour les anglophones :
‘IT IS THE WORST FORM OF CHILD ABUSE’: HORRIFYING EXPERIENCE OF THE SUPERMODEL ANTI-FGM CAMPAIGNER
Supermodel Waris Dirie has bravely highlighted the blight of millions of the girls across the world forced to undergo FGM.
The international fashion star has detailed the cruel and unnecessary practice that she underwent aged 13 when she lived as a nomad in her native Somalia.
And Waris, 49, has revealed her mission to save one million girls from the evils of FGM through her Desert Flower Foundation.
In an interview with MailOnline the former face of former face of Chanel, Levi’s, L’Oreal and Revlon has revealed her determination to campaign for an end to this barbaric procedure.
Waris said: ‘I was mutilated as a little nomad girl in the Somali desert. I almost died from blood loss, shock and an infection after this brutal torture.
‘Even though I was only a little girl I knew this was very wrong and I decided to fight one day against this crime not knowing when, where and how.
‘Many years later as a model I used my fame to start my mission to eradicate FGM and to let the world know about this atrocity.
‘Some 30 million little girls in Africa alone are threatened with FGM. I will save one million of those beautiful, innocent little girls.’
Waris blames the sexist societies in Africa which promotes FGM, branding it ‘child abuse’.
She said: ‘The society I grew up in, girls and women are not respected. As a woman you have no rights. They [men] can abuse you, misuse you, rape you, mutilate you, beat you up and dismiss you, if they want.
‘Nobody will protect you when you are a woman. People believe a girl will not be faithful if she develops any sexual feelings or pleasure.
‘Therefore they destroy the girl’s sexuality in cutting her genitals. It is the worst form of child abuse.’
The model revealed the lifelong psychological scars the mutilation has caused her.
‘I suffer from nightmares, flash-backs and chronic pain,’ she told MailOnline. ‘A lot of those girls [who undergo FGM] die from blood loss and infections.
‘Those who survive suffer from physical pain and psychological trauma for the rest of their lives. Sex will be very painful.
‘They will suffer big problems while having their period and will also have problems trying to urinate – often forever. They will be at high risk delivering a baby.’
She added: ‘The whole world has to fight against FGM. It has to become everyone’s fight otherwise it will never stop.’
Waris has described in intimate detail how she was held down while parts of her vagina were amputated with a blood-stained razor blade and the stumps sewed up using thorns from an acacia tree, in her best-selling autobiography Desert Flower.
She wrote: ‘I felt my flesh, my genitals, being cut away. I heard the sound of the dull blade sawing back and forth through my skin.
Brave: Waris has spoken of her own terrible experiences in graphic detail in her book, later made into a film
‘It’s like somebody is slicing through the meat of your thigh, or cutting off your arm, except this is the most sensitive part of your body. I passed out.
‘When I woke up…the worst part of it had just begun. The Killer Woman had piled next to her a stack of thorns from the acacia tree. She used them to puncture holes in my skin, then poke a strong white thread through the holes to sew me up.’
The model fled her nomadic life after her father planned to marry her to a 60-year-old man. She found sanctuary with relatives first in the Somali capital Mogadishu and later London where she was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan, who helped her to become the cover girl of the 1987 Pirelli Calender.
Her incredible story was made into a film, also entitled Desert Flower, and released in 2009.
And it is the desperate plea from the young African girl who played Waris at the time of her so-called ‘circumcision’ that is the subject of her latest book, ‘Saving Safa; Rescuing a Little Girl from FGM.’
The youngster, Safa Idriss Nour, had played the young Waris Dirie as she underwent FGM. Her parents had signed a contract and received money not to have the procedure performed upon her as part of the acting agreement.
But the girl wrote to the supermodel appealing for help four years later saying her parents were planning to make her undergo FGM, following pressure from relatives and clan members in their Horn of Africa home, Djibouti.
‘I was shocked and I was very angry,’ Waris Dirie, 49, said. ‘I decided I had to fly to Djibouti immediately to save my little girl from this brutal crime.’
Waris Dirie dropped everything and flew to the Horn of Africa state where she met Safa’s parents. She brought them to Europe to encourage them to change their minds, despite the tremendous pressure they were under from their community.
The model discovered the family were being ostracised and Safa’s father feared he would never find her a husband in the Horn of Africa state where 97 per cent of girls undergo FGM.
The Desert Flower Foundation aims to raise awareness about the tragedy of FGM and help prevent girls from undergoing this unnecessary procedure.
The foundation helps girls – from Europe and Africa – threatened with FGM by trying to convince their parents to abandon the practice.
It also works with a Waldfriede hospital in Berlin, Germany, to provide reconstructive surgery, gynaecological, urological and psychological treatment to FGM victims.