Desert flower

I have the utmost respect for Waris Dirie. There is a lot to learn about her journey. Both heart wrenching and exciting. This is by far one of the most brilliant and heartbreaking memoir I’ve read. It’s also a rather important book, which opens our eyes to FGM. A torturous cruel practise that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out on minors, performed by elders with no health care training. This cultural practice is rooted in a harsh patriarchial system that constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Unfortunately, this practice still goes on in parts of the world to date! A violation of human and children’s rights.

How can a child be subjected to horror and trauma and still grow up to become a brilliant, inspirational woman? Most messed up grownups just blame it on an abusive childhood. Well, not Waris. She chooses not to be enslaved by her trials and tribulations. Raped at 4, mutilated at 5, ran away from a forced marriage to an older man at 13! We see her find her way to Mogadishu, fight off more rapists and a hungry lion which somehow decides she was not a worthy snack! We also see her go through a series of drama with her relatives. Find her way to London where she works as a maid then at Macdonald. Despite her struggle, she rises as a supermodel and chooses to speak up for all the little girls around the world who are being subjected to the same gruesome rituals. Given that this has been a taboo topic, which carries with it a great amount of shame, I’m glad that Waris found the courage and strength to use her voice, educate and fight against it.

This story of an illiterate girl, who hardly knows how to use bathroom facilities, has never used a phone and can hardly put an English sentence together and yet grows up to be an influential UN ambassador, and an icon for helping other women, sort of gives us hope, inspires and reminds us that if we are as relentless in pursuing our dreams, we can change the world.

We cannot choose the cultures we are born into, but we can work to break generational cycles and believes born of patriarchy, ignorance and the need to control. The most natural thing like getting your period, making love, paying a visit to the gynaecologist should not be torturous. All in the name of cultures that expect women to be chaste at whatever expense. Who are these culture serving?

It all starts with awareness. With this memoir, Waris has opened up space for conversations, Where people with the same experience can feel empowered to talk about it without shame, so other little girls will not have to suffer this barbaric practice.

I gave this book 5 stars and highly recommend it. Thank you for dropping by.


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