Taking nearly a decade to complete, Cut: Exposing FGM Worldwide is a feature-length documentary that conclusively proves that female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM) can be found as a native practice on all inhabitable continents. From war zones in the Middle East to suburban white America, the film visits fifteen countries and features key interviews with FGM survivors, activists, cutters, doctors and researchers to uncover an often secret practice shrouded in centuries of traditions, mysticisms and irrationalities.
The film won PBS's TTC About Women and Girls Film Festival and a shorter 25-minute version received a TV broadcast across America on PBS stations in December 2017. The feature-length version has been sold to Gravitas Ventures, part of Red Arrow Studios, the subsidiary of European TV broadcasting giant, ProSeibenSat.1 for global distribution.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.’ There are four types of FGM according to the WHO.
For decades, many of us in the West considered FGM mostly an African phenomenon. In 2004, Wadi, an NGO providing charity help to women, children and refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan, began campaigns to expose and stop FGM in northern Iraq. Their exposure of the problem led to worldwide discussions that FGM is not just an African issue. It inspired other activists in the Middle East and elsewhere to expose FGM in their communities.
Most people are in fact unaware that FGM can be found as a native phenomenon on every continent except Antarctica. It is not tied to any one race, religion or belief.
FGM is sometimes found in conflict zones, where the extreme violence overshadows news and discussions about FGM. But in almost all communities where this practice is found, FGM is done secretly and is a taboo topic.
For this and many other reasons, we do not know the true extent of FGM worldwide and the number of women and girls affected. UNICEF has some estimates but they are woefully inadequate.
This project aims to educate the public and open discussions about FGM. Why has FGM been for so long considered an African and Islamic phenomenon when in fact it can be found as a native practice on all inhabitable continents?
There are many reasons for this. The practice on every continent is a taboo topic, most often done in secret. We in the West are often blind to our own atrocities, whether it is FGM or any other horror. Our inability to confront our faults contributes to the ‘othering’ of FGM and arguably this can perpetuate the practice. People tend to care less when a horror is deemed alien, savage, or inscrutable.
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