Desert Children

Overview

Fashion model, UN ambassador, and courageous spirit, Waris Dirie was born into a family of tribal desert nomads in Somalia. She told her story—enduring female circumcision at five years old; running away through the desert; being discovered by Terence Donovan and becoming a top fashion model—in her book, the worldwide bestseller, Desert Flower. In Desert Dawn she wrote about becoming a UN Special Ambassador against FGM (female genital mutilation) and returning to her family in Somalia. Desert ...

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Overview

Fashion model, UN ambassador, and courageous spirit, Waris Dirie was born into a family of tribal desert nomads in Somalia. She told her story—enduring female circumcision at five years old; running away through the desert; being discovered by Terence Donovan and becoming a top fashion model—in her book, the worldwide bestseller, Desert Flower. In Desert Dawn she wrote about becoming a UN Special Ambassador against FGM (female genital mutilation) and returning to her family in Somalia. Desert Children reveals how she and the journalist Corinna Milborn have investigated the practice of FGM in Europe—they estimate that up to 500,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of FGM. At the moment, France is the only European country in which offenders are convicted and no European country officially recognizes the threat of genital mutilation as a reason for asylum. Here are the voices of women who have felt encouraged and emboldened by Waris Dirie's courage. They speak out for the first time, hoping to move readers to action. At the end of the book is a comprehensive appendix listing organizations which can help.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A hard–hitting message about a brutal practice.”  —Kirkus Reviews 

"Succeeds not just as a polemic against [female genital mutilation] and its attendant horrors, but as a classic chronicle of immigrant hardship and triumph."  —Village Voice on Desert Flower

"A striking account of a personal odyssey."  —Publishers Weekly on Desert Flower

"Provides a fascinating glimpse of her separate lives—camel herder, supermodel, human rights activist—and manages to weave threads of drama, humor, and courage into each."  —Library Journal on Desert Flower

Kirkus Reviews
Third volume in Revlon model Dirie's continuing campaign to bring an end to the practice of female genital mutilation. Desert Flower (1998, not reviewed) told of the author's personal experience with FGM as a child in Somalia and of her escape to England; it also recounted her work combating the practice in Africa as a UN Special Ambassador. Here, she examines the extent of FGM in Europe. Dirie estimates that at least half-a-million women and girls currently living in Europe have been mutilated or are at risk. She describes her travels throughout the continent interviewing women working to eradicate the practice, health workers, women who have endured FGM and doctors who perform reconstructive surgery. She paints a vivid picture of what FGM does to a woman's body and frequently lets the victims tell in their own words of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Her text makes it clear that many of these women, though they reside in European countries, are almost completely isolated from Western culture. They may not speak the country's language or have any knowledge of its mores or laws; they are subject to their husbands' dictates. As a black woman and victim of FGM, Dirie made an intimate connection with her interviewees. While acknowledging that some cultural traditions dictate FGM as a prerequisite for marriage, she adamantly rejects the assertion that Islam requires it, and she demands that imams speak out against it. She also calls for better education of the general public, women at risk, social workers and health workers; for greater recognition of the crime in European judicial systems; and for increased prosecution and punishment of offenders. Appendices summarize theknown facts about FGM; outline FGM legislation in various European nations; and list sources of help. A hard-hitting message about a brutal practice that's clearly aimed at a European audience. American readers will wonder if the problem exists within U.S. borders.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844082513
  • Publisher: Virago UK
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,009,221
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Waris Dirie is an internationally renowned model and was the face of Revlon skin-care products. In 1997 she was appointed by the UN as special ambassador against FGM. She is the author of Desert Dawn and Desert Flower.

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Table of Contents


Preface     vii
My third life     1
Island of the blessed     45
'It has got to stop; it just has to stop'     80
'A child on its own cannot protect itself'     112
They do it here, too     145
It has nothing to do with religion     167
Cases must go to court     189
Epilogue: I have a dream     208
Appendix I     213
Appendix II     221
Who will help?     227
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