9 > March 30, 2019
Padiglione 9B
Curated by Renata Ferri
Texts by Emanuela Zuccalà

When fear gets hold of me
When anger seizes my body
When hate becomes my companion
Then I get feminine advice, because it is only feminine pain
And I am told feminine pain perishes
like all feminine things.
Dahabo Ali Muse, Feminine Pains (poem, 1998)

An ordinary room, or a dark hut in a rural village. A razor blade bought at a market, or a sharp knife, or simply a shard of broken glass. The women of the family restrain the little girl, while a pain that will never be forgotten is inflicted on her.

For 200 million women in the world, the passage from infancy to adulthood is marked by the blood of a female genital mutilation. The procedure comprises cutting the clitoris, sometimes scraping away the labia minora, up to the removal of all the external genitalia and sewing the incision closed leaving a small hole for menstrual flow and urine, which will later be cut open on the wedding night.

It’s an obligatory ritual in certain societies, that “purifies” women from their own femininity, subjugating them through pain and the denial of sexual pleasure.

According to Unicef, the ritual “cut” is still practiced in 30 countries of the world, of which 27 are in the African continent. The European Parliament estimates that in the EU around 500,000 migrant women are carrying a wound that can cause severe health consequences and complex integration paths.

The exhibited photos are part of the multimedia project UNCUT, which narrates how in 3 African countries – Somaliland, Kenya and Ethiopia – women have been uniting in coalitions to eradicate this harmful practice. This collective story sews together several tales of pain, of a fight for women’s rights and, in many cases, of success and empowerment.

UNCUT also focuses on Europe, by meeting women of African descent living in France, who reveal how they’re overcoming the trauma of excision through their commitment to sensitization among migrant communities.