Unsterile Clinic marks the 2nd anniversary of the Girl Summit, organised in 2014 by the UK government in collaboration with DIFID and UNESCO to mobilise domestic and international forces to end FGM globally within one generation.
‘Silvestri skillfully operates in the contested terrains where art and advocacy meet, photography and human rights converse, courageously and creatively addressing an urgent and critical condition affecting women and girls globally.’ - Renée Mussai, Curator.
As a severe form of violence and discrimination against girls and women, FGM - which involves procedures that include the partial or total removal of external female genital organs for non-medical reasons – has been a criminal offence in the United Kingdom since 1985. The 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act amended the law to include UK nationals or permanent residents taking children abroad to undergo FGM. This was further strengthened by the Serious Crime Act of 2015, which extended extra-territorial jurisdiction to acts of FGM undertaken abroad (by and/or to a UK national or resident). However, very few convictions have been made in the UK for performing or arranging FGM.
FGM is informed by complex ideas of cultural identity, tradition and often religious misconceptions – neither the Bible nor the Koran endorses the practice – and can have fatal consequences and result in complications during childbirth, infertility, infections and the loss of sexual pleasure in women subjected to cutting procedures. While FGM is primarily practiced in Africa, the Middle East and parts of South East Asia, due to increasing migrant populations Europe is equally implicated. Estimation of figures for those affected by or at risk of FGM are difficult to measure; it is believed that 125 million girls and women globally are living with the effects of FGM.
Inspired by personal experience, Aida Silvestri began an in-depth investigation into the practice in 2015, and began interviewing and photographing women living in London.