Director’s Statement

gisellewithgirls-copyI’ve been wanting to make a film highlighting the harmful tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM) for decades. FGM is the most egregious systematic human rights violation perpetrated on young girls and women in the world today—200 million women alive have been through it and more than 3 million girls are still at risk each year. Yet many people don’t know about it, and of those who do, many aren’t comfortable talking or hearing about it. It’s a tough topic.

Too often too, there is the thinking that culture is more important than human rights; and there’s the fear that if we speak up against female genital mutilation, we risk being charged with prejudices and racism. But by placing so much emphasis on worrying about the cultural sensitivities of the adults, we are sacrificing the fundamental human rights of the children.

This is why I made In The Name Of Your Daughter.

I wanted to amplify the voices of the children themselves, the young girls who are fighting to save themselves from FGM. Because here is the thing; once young girls are educated about the potential effects of FGM—death, increased maternal mortality, pain urinating and menstruating, fistula, loss of sexual pleasure and so on—they do not want to go through it.

By turning the lens and placing the focus on the young courageous children who are speaking up and taking action against FGM, In The Name Of Your Daughter aims to change the conversation around this issue. I hope that hearing the voices and stories of these girls will empower and inspire audiences of every color, every religion, every ethnicity, to stand up and speak up and defend girls’ rights to a life free from mutilation and child marriage. The fight against FGM is not the purview of one particular group – it is the responsibility of each and every person who believes that human rights are girls’ rights, and that girls’ rights are human rights.
People need to know, believe, that it’s not just okay, that in fact it’s necessary, to stand up in the name of other people’s daughters.

As U.K. Human Rights activist and FGM survivor Hibo Wardere says:

“Don’t say can I get it involved. Will I be seen as a racist? No. You are a human being. Be that simple human and get involved. Be brave and bold. Use your voice for greater good.”

In The Name Of Your Daughter is me, using my skills for greater good, by giving a voice to others, to girls as young as eight whose voices have been silenced for far too long.

I’m very grateful to the team of talented Tanzanians who made this film with me– Samson Kapinga, Laurent Kiria, Hadija Hassan, Boaz Mashauri, Mercy John, Sam Obae and others, all young Africans working to change their society. I thank and admire them enormously.

There have been many films about FGM, each one a significant contribution. I’m hoping that our film too will help raise awareness and play a key role in the growing end FGM movement.

In The Name Of Your Daughter has been years in the making but here it is, finally, a documentary that tells one of the most important human rights stories of our time from the perspective of those who are living it; a celebration of girls’ rights to have their voices heard and their young bodies left intact.

Giselle Portenier