The Face of Defiance exhibits in Senegal

20 November 2017

The Face of Defiance exhibits in Dakar, Senegal to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 

The Girl Generation invites you to The Face of Defiance Senegal - the first African exhibition of the inspirational end FGM portrait collection.

Created by activist Leyla Hussein and photographer Jason Ashwood, The Face of Defiance photographs survivors of and campaigners against FGM who are all willing to speak publicly about their experiences, many for the first time. In July 2017, The Face of Defiance travelled with The Girl Generation in Senegal to photograph and share stories from Senegalese activists, and now return to exhibit these powerful images.

Leyla Hussein reflects on her experience:

"My time in Senegal was extremely intense, difficult and frustrating at times, however it was also one of most beautiful, thought-provoking and life changing experiences which will have a lifetime impact on my professional and personal life. I was forced to face realities of how deeply rooted FGM still is in certain regions I visited.

I am totally humbled by the campaigners and survivors that I met. I was blown away by their commitment to ending FGM globally but also wanting a better future for their children, especially their daughters. I'm so thankful for this experience." 

Far from the sophisticated streets of Dakar, the team went to remote southern Senegal, where FGM prevalence rates are highest, to photograph local women and men at the frontlines of their communities work to end FGM. It provides real recognition of the great work done by activists, the unknown people at the community level who are dedicated to end FGM.

Women like Fatoumata Tamba, an FGM Survivor, who works at a gynaecological unit at Sedhiou Regional Hospital, caring for women with severe medical complications from FGM. Or Mariama Gnamadio, an end  FGM activist, who confronted the stigma of being uncut in her decision not to cut her daughters.

“At first, it was hard with my parents, who would see them as untouchables. But after some time they realised that their fears about uncut girls were unfounded: my daughters were not promiscuous nor did they smell.”

The exhibition also features ex-cutters, highlighting their important role in speaking out against their own livelihood as an important part of change. Mamady Koudjira, whose portrait is taken with his mother-in-law, an ex-cutter, learnt of the harmful effects of FGM through state-run awareness campaigns and subsequently refused to allow his four daughters to be cut.

“I come from a family of cutters. I started a conversation with my mother-in-law, who is a cutter. I wanted to convince her to stop cutting for good.”

The Face of Defiance uses photography to share positive stories of change which inspire others to end FGM. It makes people aware of the many issues involved, and creates 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. 

The exposition will take place in Dakar on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December 2017 at la Maison de la Presse (Medina rue 5 X Corniche).

Find out more about the event

A press conference and preview will take place on 5th December at 11am.

Photo credit: Jason Ashwood

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