Eve Ensler at Radcliffe: FGM sub rosa in a stellar speech


This web address leads you to Eve Ensler’s keynote at the Radcliffe conference “Who Decides? Gender, Medicine and the Public’s Health,” on April 10 -11, 2014, where Eve introduced In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection. A survivor of advanced malignancy, she gratefully celebrates each day of life and tells a thrilling tale of bodies’ exiles and returns, proximity and distance. Brilliant.

Olubunmi Temitope Oyesanya. The Young Prey. Oil on canvas. 2008.

Olubunmi Temitope Oyesanya. The Young Prey. Oil on canvas. 2008.

Serendipity led me to the link, however,  as a troubling omission made me  nearly turn away. Attracted by the symposium’s title, I had been looking to see whether FGM – a major threat to public health — would be among the topics. After all,  more than 225,000 children in the USA are thought to be at risk; neighboring Brigham and Women’s Hospital houses one of the few North American specialists devoted to alleviating excised women’s pain; and the silence surrounding FGM south of the Canadian border presages a crisis once thousands of schoolgirls who may have undergone “vacation cutting” enter puberty.

Although Ensler includes female genital mutilation in the catalog of vaginal ‘rites’ her famous monologs preserve, she’s here in the UnCUT/VOICES blog for a lovely but seemingly disconnected comment made at 2 minutes and 13 seconds into her talk. While greeting the audience, she mentions one person by name, overjoyed  at seeing “Diane Rosenfeld and so many friends” she had “known for so long.”

Olubunmi Temitope Oyesanya. The Scourge. Oil on Canvas. 2008.

Olubunmi Temitope Oyesanya. The Scourge. Oil on Canvas. 2008.

Dr. Diane Rosenfeld, Harvard Law School researcher, worked with Efua Dorkenoo and others on the renowned Lancet study, published in June 2006, that provided the first peer-reviewed scientific proof of FGM’s horror in childbirth and damage to newborns. And Diane, I am so pleased to say, is one of ‘us’ — on UnCUT/VOICE’s honorary advisory board.

You can see Diane under “Our Partners” at http://uncutvoices.com/ … and thrill to Eve Ensler’s incandescence as she disarms brutality and applauds women’s strengths.  The link again: https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/event/2014-who-decides-conference



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