International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM

The Cut

February 6 is the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This year marks the 9th time the UN focuses on this issue by dedicating an annual day to raise awareness.

The World Health Organization estimates that 120-140 million girls and women have had their genitals mutilated. 2 – 3 million new victims join their ranks every year. I was so taken by this that I spent several years doing research to why this tradition is still alive in this day and age. The result was a handful of articles, meetings with people that have touched me deep in my soul and will live with me for as long as I breathe, and a short documentary that I directed. CNN picked it up only a few weeks after it was launched on a dedicated website and broadcasted it in October 2009.

«The Cut» can be downloaded for free on . Or streamed on Vimeo as below.

The Cut is a short documentary about Mary (14 years old) and Alice (early 20s) from Kenya. Both are affected by the traditional rite of passage into womanhood: genital cutting.

Mary and her community are preparing for her ceremonial cutting.

Alice is studying to be a social worker to work against female genital mutilation. As the first in her community to refuse the practice, she has paid a high price for her choice to break with tradition.

Alice tells of the different myths she encounters in the community around her, as to why circumcision is practiced. Mary, on the other hand, has no voice. She just goes through the preparations and rituals in silence.

Director: Linda May Kallestein

Photographer: Justo N. Casal

Editor: Trine Nordmark Børstad

Producer: Phantomfilm
-Broadcast on CNN in October 2009.

-Nominated as best documentary at WT Os International Film Festival 2009

-Shown at various film festivals