INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS: 1st PLACE AND HONOURABLE MENTION!
Oct 6, 2018 | By: Matilde Simas
It is with much excitement that my photo "Growing up Female in Maasai Society" and “A Centuries Old Maasai Custom: Female Genital Mutilation" for Capture Humanity has been awarded 1st place in the Event/ Social Cause category + Honorable Mention for Culture and Traditions category in the very prestigious 2018 International Photography Awards (IPA)!
This series documents an unlawful Maasai Female Genital Mutilation ceremony in Makuta, Kenya, on November 2016. “FGM” is a rite of passage thought to elevate a girl from childhood to the status of adulthood. The belief is it has the ability to reduce a woman's desire for sex, making her less likely to engage in pre-marital sex or adultery. The procedure, clitoridectomy, ranges from snipping off a piece of the clitoris to the removal of all external genitalia. In a dimly light mud hut, an elderly woman performs the procedure with an instrument, known as an "ormurunya".
Kenya’s abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM) was written into federal law in 2011, yet the practice remains widespread in remote areas of the country. “If I do not accept the ‘cut,’ I will be forced to leave,” says one Maasai girl from a remote village. “Where can I go? Girls are cast out from their communities if they’re not ‘cut.’ ”She explains that many girls undergo the process due to familial and community pressures. Maasai society represses the voices of women, and the costs are high for girls who reject the traditional way.
I'd like to Thank my trusted guide + fixer Anthony Nzuki. Without your help I would have not been able to do this work. You were so much more then a guide + fixer during this journey. You were like a brother. A true friend always assisting me and helping me see the culture for what it is. I thank you for that and so much more. I can't forget Program Manager at BIG LIFE FOUNDATION KENYA, Samar Ntalamia. Samar has personal ties to this issue and acted as my liaison. Samar is not only the Program Manager for Education at Big Life Foundation he is also a father of two young girls who have started feeling the deep social stigma due to not accepting 'FGM.' Samar has gone to great lengths to send both his daughters to a boarding school far from their village home to remove them from the social stigma. "It brings great harm to the girls and so much trauma. It has been difficult having to send both my daughters away for their schooling but it is the best for them. Education for young girls is very important and prevents early marriage." says Samar.