This study aims to analyse the visual representation of the vagina in campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM). The practice of FGM is mostly aimed at the concealment, deformation and removal of the outer female genitalia. A variety of campaigns are targeting countries in Africa where the practice is most prevalent as well as the diaspora in Europe, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. These campaigns mostly address FGM as an important women’s human rights issue. Anti-FGM campaigns focus on the harmful practice of deforming, removing and hiding female genitalia, rendering the vagina the main subject matter of the campaigns. The question arises whether these campaigns use the representation of the vagina as a visual element to confront and question the origins, purpose and legitimacy of FGM. Or do they steer away from displaying the vagina, since the vagina, vaginal imagery and discussions surrounding the vagina, are generally seen as taboo? This begs the question whether the intolerance and discomfort surrounding the vagina may paradoxically lead anti-FGM campaigns to inadvertently strengthen and reinforce the patriarchal practice of concealing women’s bodies, especially the vagina, from public display.
Mini Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2018.