Waris Dirie

Waris DirieA story of rags to riches, then to human rights and justice

posted by: Zinzi Eka-Naphtali
published: 16th January 2014
Any news or updates listed at the foot of this item

Waris Dirie was born into a traditional nomad family living in the Somali desert near the border to Ethiopia in 1965. At the tender age of five, she was forced to undergo the inhuman procedure of female genital mutilation (commonly practiced by nomad’s). This horrible tradition is still practiced in many countries around the world today – by both by Moslems and Christians. According to records kept by the United Nations more than 8000 girls become victims of this heinous crime every day.

At the age of 13, after being forced to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather Waris fled her homeland. After a daring escape and many tribulations, she arrived in London and initially found employment as a housemaid and later at a McDonald’s.

At the age of just 18 years old she was discovered by one of Britain’s leading fashion photographers, Terence Donovan, who thought she would be the perfect model. She quickly became an international celebrity.

She was given a part in a James Bond epic, the blockbuster “The Living Daylights”, starring Timothy Dalton as 007. In 1996 the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, appointed Waris Dirie a UN Special Ambassador for the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.

She has traveled the world extensively for the UN, participated in numerous conferences on the subject, met with national leaders, Nobel Prize-winners, international stars, gaining support for this important issue as well as generating large donations for the UN.

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Related Articles:

www.desertflowerfoundation.org

Waris Dirie: ‘Female genital mutilation is pure violence against girls’
14 October 2013
Supermodel Waris Dirie was just five when she became a victim of female genital mutilation. As she collects an award for her campaign against the practice, she explains why it has to stop.

The Waris Dirie Story
June 1999
“My family was a tribe of herdsmen in the Somalian desert. And as a child, the freedom I had to experience nature’s sights, sounds and smells was pure joy. We watched lions baking in the sun. We ran with giraffes, zebras and foxes. We chased hyraxes—rabbit-size animals—through the sand. I was so happy”.

“I underwent FGM and I fight against it all over the world”

Books by Waris Dirie (Amazon)

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