In the Kuria community, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, Female Genital Mutilation has been practiced as a ritual for generations.
Beryl Magoko underwent the procedure when she was ten. She later realised that this practice was wrong and wanted to tell the world but did not know how at the time. The answer came years later as she was studying Film at Kampala University and submitted a film project for her Diploma. The result is now a multi-award-winning documentary ‘The Cut’.
The film, which is 43 minutes long and took five weeks to make, follows different members of the Kuria community as they have their say on the practice of FGM. While the elders are adamant that the tradition must be kept at all costs, there are mixed feelings among the new generation. Some still believe that a girl is not a real woman until she has been circumcised while others call for a stop to the practice. A group of activists, which refreshingly includes a large number of men, is trying to raise awareness on the issue and has created a camp that offers shelter to girls who have escaped circumcision. There are also insights from girls who have undergone the procedure, girls who refuse to do it and health professionals, who advise on the risk of the procedure.
As well as being extremely informative about the way FGM is carried out and what it means for a woman to be circumcised, the film highlights the link between FGM and child marriage, another common practice within many communities in Africa and elsewhere. Once a girl is circumcised, which usually happens between the age of 10 and 15, she is usually removed from school to be married off. So refusing to undergo circumcision is also a way for a girl to continue her education.
Many films have been made on FGM but in our opinion this stands out for its unique perspective. By giving a voice to every member of the community, it manages to effectively describe what it is really like for a girl to undergo circumcision, what are the consequences on her health and how local people’s views on the issue are conflicting. It also leaves you with a sense of hope that through awareness can come change.
The Cut was shown on Wednesday 29th January at SOAS in London. The screening, which was followed by a panel discussion on the issue, was organised by Forward UK, a women support organisation focusing on FGM, child marriage and obstetric fistula.
Watch the film trailer here: