The Desert Flower
Desert flower…..The words conjure up images of struggle and difficulty. In the desert, everything is a struggle. Much of what we in America and other places blessed with easy access to water take for granted, requires herculean effort to obtain in the desert. Yet, the desert flower thrives.
It struggles daily for its very survival. It lives in an environment where the sun is abundant but water is extremely scarce so it has to dig its roots deep into the dry, brittle ground to find what it needs to live. Its struggle is a graphic depiction of the struggle all survivors face to overcome challenges and live.
Wasir Dirie, “desert flower”
But it is also the story of Wasir Dirie, supermodel, author, actress, wife and mother, and human rights activist for the horrific cause of FGM, female genital mutilation, also known as infibulation.
Before Wasir’s story was told in the National Geographic movie, “Desert Flower” (which is what Wasir’s name means), more than 8,000 girls a day, some as young as three years old, were forced to undergo the brutal and inhumane female circumcision, in which the clitoris and labia are removed with dirty, crude cutting instruments.
Victims, like Wasir herself and her own two sisters, are stitched after the crude surgery with thorns and left with a match-head sized orifice for urinating and menstruating. Some die of massive infections from the dirty and unsanitary conditions under which the circumcision is performed, while others die later in childbirth.
This barbaric practice can’t be blamed on religion or religious zealots. Female circumcision is not mentioned in the Bible or in the Quran. Instead, it seems to have been devised by and for fearful men in some patriarchal Muslim nations, ( including Somalia, where Wasir is from, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Chad, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan) where men enjoy almost total control over women’s lives.
But thanks to the courageous efforts of supermodel Wasir Dirie, who was appointed special U.N. Ambassador for the cause, numerous countries have condemned and outlawed the practice.
“Desert Flower”, the movie which tells Wasir’s story desertflowermovie.com was produced by National Geographic and is not your usual dry, boring documentary. It avoids the usual, narrated, oh-look-at-the-poor-natives tone and opts, instead, to follow little Wasir from her birth in the desert of Somalia to her monumentally treacherous trek through that same desert to freedom and a new life as a supermodel in London.
Anyone who has suffered a life-changing experience, whether through illness or injury, will be deeply affected by this movie. It is impossible to watch it and remain calm. It will stir every instinct within you to fight, to push, to press toward the destiny that lies within you, just as Wasir did on behalf of the young victims of male insecurity.
As Wasir said in her speech to U.N. delegates, in which she shared her amazing story, “The last camel in line walks as quickly as the first.” In other words, whatever happens to the least of us, has an affect on all of us. The movie reminds us that the freedoms we take for granted in America, as women, for example, are not common around the world.
I encourage you to watch it and to join the cause to have this horrible practice outlawed wherever it is still practiced. So many young desert flowers are depending on us.
(c) 2012 V. Stanley