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Second model who spoke against female genital mutilation is missing

Posted by Judy K. Warner on March 7, 2008

We recently reported on the death of Katoucha Niane, one of the first African women to attain international stardom as a model and a vocal opponent of female genital mutilation. She fell into the Seine on her way to her houseboat. Now Atlas Shrugs reports that in Brussels,

Waris Dirie, a former model who has campaigned against female genital mutilation and written an international best-seller about her experiences, is missing, police and her manager said Friday.

Dirie — who was born in Somalia and now lives in Vienna, Austria — gained international fame as a model posing in Chanel ads and acting in a James Bond film before launching her campaign against female genital mutilation in 1996.

She recounted her own experiences of suffering genital mutilation as a child in the book “Desert Flower,” which became an international best-seller.

Dirie was due to speak to two conferences on women’s rights organized by the European Union in Brussels this week, including one Thursday attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Two updates, March 8:

One, here is some more information on Dirie, from the Evening Standard of London:

Miss Dirie – a cousin of David Bowie’s supermodel wife Iman – is a leading figure in the campaign against genital mutilation.

She wrote about her own experience of being mutilated in the book Desert Flower, which became an international bestseller.

She fled from Somalia at 13 after her father gave her in marriage to a 61-year-old man in exchange for five camels.

Fleeing to Britain, she originally lived here illegally, working as a cleaner at McDonald’s.

Then she was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan, who put her on the cover of the 1987 Pirelli calendar – and fame followed.

In 1997, Miss Dirie quit modelling to focus on women’s rights work and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed her Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.

Now based in Vienna, she has taken Austrian nationality.

Second, and more important, Infinicat tells us Dirie has been found. No foul play appears to have been involved.

2 Responses to “Second model who spoke against female genital mutilation is missing”

  1. One of the other writers over at Highbrid Nation wrote about Katoucha Niane and the disappearing of other models working on campaigns to stop genital mutilation. He actually think black magic may be involved. Yeh I know, that theory is a bit out there but I’ve heard stranger things.


  2. Infinicat said

    Happily, more like Lost & Found:

    BRUSSELS, Belgium — Police on Friday found Waris Dirie, three days after the Somali-born model who launched a worldwide campaign against female genital mutilation had vanished.

    Dirie, 43, appeared to be in good health and was being questioned by police about the disappearance, said Estelle Arpigny, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.

    She declined to give further details, saying it was unclear what had happened since Dirie vanished early Wednesday. Belgian media reports said police found her Friday afternoon walking the Brussels’ Grand Place square.

    — Infinicat


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