‘A rite of passage, they call it. A party, they call it.’
The occasion begins with a celebration; dozens of women dressed colourfully, gathering as if for a party.
Except it’s not a day of happiness and lightness. Instead, it an event centred around the infliction of mutilation and pain on a vulnerable, non-consenting 13-year-old girl.
That’s the story told by a powerful new video made by two UK student filmmakers as part of a worldwide campaign against female genital circumcision or mutilation (FGM).
The short video, entitled The Sculpted and created by Westminster University students Ellie Jones and Miholyn Soon, uses symbolic imagery — cloth being cut and then sewn back together tightly, a chicken being hacked with a blade — to highlight the violence and trauma associated with FGM.
While the subject of the video doesn’t speak throughout the short film, a voiceover recounts her inward struggle as she is subjected to the procedure, then plagues by nightmarish visions “like a personal horror movie” for years thereafter.
The short film was screened at the Campus MovieFest in Hollywood, according to The Guardian.
FGM, which is mostly carried out on young girls before the age of 15, involves intentionally altering or injuring the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has significant health implications including infections, cysts, complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths, and is considered a signficiant breach of human rights.
Frighteningly, the practice remains common: At least 125 million girls and women across the globe have been mutilated, and the practice is concentrated in 29 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organisation.
The video only runs for three minutes, but it’s gripping the whole way through. Watch it here: