“First, listen to the screaming children, their desperate shrieks that go on and on until they fade into exhausted whimpers, this cleavage of body and soul hurled at an indifferent crowd, the obstinate, strident sound mounting in vain to the burning sky. This distinctive cry, I’ve been fortunate never to have heard it. But I’ve seen the screech emerge from a video cassette used in African campaigns against FGM” (9). Beliefs and Misbeliefs, a film commissioned by the Nigerian section of the Inter-African Committee, shows what campaigners urge the public to oppose – a clitoridectomy undertaken on a city sidewalk in full view of passers-by. Clearly an unremarkable, everyday event, FGM continues to defy attempts to stop it.
This was the first part of the message shared at the University of Hartford, Mt. Holyoke, Brandeis and Harvard as Hubert Prolongeau and Tobe Levin read from Undoing FGM. Pierre Foldes, the Surgeon Who Restores the Clitoris. The second part placed the accent on success, for the physician has become an activist whose patients refuse to pass the custom on. They have begun to speak out, Foldes writes, about “what they have always silenced, their hopes of recovery – and recovery of hope” (231).
Our thanks to sponsors – Dr. Carole MacKenzie and Dr. Mala Matacin (Hartford); Dr. Gabriele Wittig-Davis, European Studies and the Five Colleges Women’s Studies Research Center (Mt. Holyoke); Dr. Mei-Mei Ellerman, Dr. Shulamit Reinharz and many others (Brandeis — see poster below); and Dr. Abby Wolf, Interim Acting Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research (Harvard). Our gratitude goes as well to host Sharon Cushing and to reporter Aly Schumann for her story in the Brandeis HOOT: