War of the Roses: Amnesty International’s Newest Campaign against Female Genital Mutilation

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Amnesty International has run a new campaign to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. These images of flowers sewn up are visually striking because of the implied violence against a delicate object. The ads are effective because they give the viewer a graphic idea of what exactly is implied by female genital mutilation (though the campaign leaves out “lesser” forms of FGM, such as clitoridectomy). While the idea of using a flower as a metaphor for a woman’s genitals doesn’t sit well with me (it really just makes me think of comparing women to flowers and pearls, i.e., things that need protection), this is a really good way to get this message across.

I was especially thrilled to read the copy at the bottom of the page (click on the images to see them up close): “Every year, two million girls suffer the pain of genital mutilation – a clear violation of their human rights. No government should continue to ignore this crime. Help us to stop violence against women. Give your support at…”

No mention of Islam. No mention of Muslims. No mention of geographical locations associated with Muslims. No pictures of veiled women. Just a statement that condemns an action without entangling politics or religion. Often, FGM is used synonymously with Islamic practice, though this is incorrect. Muslims who practice FGM do it in certain parts of the world because of cultural traditions, not because of Islamic ones.

This campaign is a perfect example of how to condemn an act without extending the condemnation to everyone that happens to be in the same religious/ethnic category of those who happen to practice said act.

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Fatemeh is currently finishing her master's degree. She currently runs a website dedicated to critiquing how Muslim women are portrayed in both Eastern and Western media.