Photofusion Member | Chiara Ceolin

Jay looking outdoor. She is a British-born woman who underwent Female Genital Mutilation when she was 15 years old. She never spoke about it to anyone until the day she started suffering from flashbacks and nightmares ten years later approximately. It was then that she started her journey, a long journey to heal her wounds.

“I am a survivor, not a victim“ with these words Jay describes her experience of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She is a British-born woman who was cut when she was 15 years old. She never spoke about it to anyone until the day she started suffering from flashbacks and nightmares ten years later approximately.

It was then that she started her journey, a long journey to heal her wounds.

© Chiara Ceolin, Jay #1, from the series ‘Jay’s Journey’

Not only she underwent FGM but also she was sexually abused for years before that. She decided to face all her ghosts, memories and trauma to find a way to survive and transform them into something useful for her and others. Psychotherapy, religion and writing were the cathartic tools that she found, all combined by a strong will. Jay didn’t keep any document, photo or diary about her past, nothing, only her memories. Now she speaks out, campaigns to empower and promote women’s strength and is also writing a book about her story.

I met Jay at an FGM conference in 2011 and since then I have been photographing and interviewing her, amazed by her strength, power and courage. The project is still going on, I am planning to follow her latest campaign called “Red Lipstick Day – The movement” which will take place 11th November 2013. It will be a day to promote “life lived boldly, confidently and freely, to embrace (…) women’s sexiness and to love abundantly because there is no shame in being beautiful and expressing that beauty – red lipstick represents that to me” Jay writes on the campaign page.

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