Photography exhibition celebrating FGM survivors and campaigners comes to New York

18 September 2017

Following the success of exhibitions in Washington, D.C. and Dublin, The Face of Defiance arrives in New York this week. Hosted by the Oslo Freedom Forum, and generously funded by the Wallace Global Fund and Human Dignity Foundation, the portraits will be on show at the Rogue Space Chelsea from September 20th – 22nd, as part of the Human Rights Foundation’s Creative Dissent exhibition.

Created by The Girl Generation’s End FGM Ambassador, Leyla Hussein, in collaboration with photographer Jason Ashwood “The Face of Defiance” photographs FGM survivors and activists from the UK, US and Senegal, who are willing to speak publicly about their experiences, most for the first time.

The exhibition seeks to broaden public awareness and to create a new positive dialogue about ending FGM. It gives exposure to the rights of women who should be empowered to speak out about FGM and provides them with the platform to break the cycle and become agents of change. 

These subjects are therapists, nurses, campaigners, public speakers, authors, award winners and tireless campaigners. They have all dedicated their lives to defy their community expectations by campaigning to end FGM and to support other survivors of it. In their own ways, they have written accounts of their experiences and have been willing to be interviewed to give fuller stories which accompany their images.


 “The Girl Generation is proud to partner with The Face of Defiance project as we work together to end FGM in this generation, bringing dignity and hope to  survivors and champions, and providing a platform for positive stories of change to be heard.” 

Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell, Global Director, The Girl Generation.


Leyla Hussein (psychotherapist, international award-winning social activist and subject of this project), approached UK photographer Jason Ashwood in early 2014, with an idea to create a series of public portraits of FGM survivors. The aim was to promote an image of survivors who are beautiful, confident and proud of their remarkable achievements despite what they had suffered.


“FGM is fundamentally to control women’s sexuality, to oppress women in a process of grooming that in itself is a form of abuse. With The Face of Defiance, we are reclaiming our bodies back without feeling ashamed or controlled,”

says Leyla Hussein, The Face of Defiance co-creator.


“Over the past three years of shooting The Face of Defiance one thing has remained consistent - the utter determination by all the subjects from every country to overcome personal challenges and campaign to end FGM. 

The Face of Defiance has been a very moving yet positive project and I hope my portraits convey the beauty, hope and resilience of those who seek to end this abhorrent human rights abuse, and inspire others to join it”.

Jason Ashwood, The Face of Defiance photographer and co-creator.


The Creative Dissent exhibition is at 508 W. 26th St. at Rogue Space Chelsea with an opening reception on Wednesday September 20th from 5-9pm. The exhibition is open to the public for viewing on September 21st and 22nd from 10am until 6pm.

Further details are available on the event Facebook page

Find out more about The Face of Defiance

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and information.