“A Permanent Wound” is a personal documentary project about female genital mutilation in Egypt. Although in 2008 a law was enacted criminalizing FGM, Egyptians still consider it as one of the most important religious and traditional rituals. The community and specifically the family force their own concepts of rules on girls, believing that it protects the female’s dignity and honor. women and girls who have undergone the process of genital mutilation in Egypt. Thus it attempts to explore myths and misconceptions that justify the continuation of this practice, I am a survivor of female genital mutilation. I grew up in a country that is infamous for the highest rate of female genital mutilation in the region.
Assault often is about controlling female sexuality, a tradition to prepare women for marriage, allegedly to purify them for their husbands. Sometimes it’s done to girls because it was done previously to their mothers as a rite of passage or a coming of age ritual or even without much of an explanation. FGM is not a religious exercise because it happens in Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities, but there is nothing in any of their holy books that teaches it.
When I fled Egypt, I was actually running away from pain. In a patriarchal society like Egypt, different forms of violence against women are normalized. There is the violence of genital mutilation, the violence of political prosecution, and the violence of a hostile public space. Throughout my escape journey, women’s bodies were recurrent site for the same patriarchal violence.
Born in Egypt in 1996, based in Turkey, studying GIS, Somaya Abdelrahman started as a photojournalist and worked for couple of newspapers and news websites. Selected as one of the 9 grantees of the Magnum Foundation and AFAC grant in 2019, her work largely focuses on documenting social issues and human rights. The “Permanent Wound” project received the support of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) in 2019, and Magnum and Prince Klaus Fund. She won TYTW’s Emerging Photographers Fellowship Program 2020 with Too young to Wed and Canon US. She is currently studying photography and journalism at Hanover University in Germany.