Despite suffering female genital mutilation FGM at the age of five, and its life-long consequences, Waris Dirie escaped from her native Galkayo , Somalia, fleeing to Mogadishu to escape an arranged marriage. Moving with relatives to London , she worked for a while at a McDonald's and was discovered by chance by fashion photographer Terence Donovan. She continued via modelling in film and fashion to a stage where she was considered a supermodel. It was at this point that, with Miller, she wrote this autobiography. In , the book was adapted into a film of the same name.
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From to , she served as a UN special ambassador against female genital cutting. Dirie was born as one of twelve children into a nomadic family in in the area of Galkayo , Somalia. Her first name Waris means desert flower. When she was five, she herself suffered circumcision in the form of Infibulation. At the age of thirteen, she fled through the desert to Mogadishu in order to escape an arranged marriage to a year-old man.
She first stayed there with relatives, but later she was told that she could not stay any longer because her escape was not tolerated. One of her uncles, who was then Somali ambassador to the United Kingdom, was looking for a maid. So she was brought to London, where she worked at the Somali embassy without pay.
When the uncle had to leave London after the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia, Dirie fled the embassy and lived first in the streets of London, later in a home of the YMCA. She earned her living as a cleaning lady in a local McDonald's.
She also began evening classes to learn English. At the age of 18, Dirie's life changed abruptly. By chance, she was discovered by photographer Terence Donovan , who photographed her in together with the then still unknown model Naomi Campbell for the title of the Pirelli Calendar.
In , at the height of her modeling career, Dirie spoke for the first time with Laura Ziv of the women's magazine Marie Claire about the female genital mutilation FGM that she had undergone as a child,   at the age of five along with her two sisters. She later paid her mother a visit in her native Somalia.
In , Dirie coauthored her first book along with nonfiction author Cathleen Miller :  Desert Flower , an autobiography that went on to become an international bestseller.
The foundation collects money to raise awareness about the worldwide problem of FGM and to help those affected. In the same year, she received the Corine Literature Prize. The European Union then put the fight against female genital mutilation on its agenda, after which laws were tightened up and preventive measures initiated in many European countries. She spoke for the first time on an Arab channel in front of over million viewers about the taboo topic "Female Genital Mutilation".
Benjamin Herrmann and Waris Dirie were co-producers. The Foundation's work is financed by donations. Dirie has campaigned extensively to draw attention to the brutal ritual of female genital mutilation. Dirie posed for the company's icons collection as successor to Pamela Anderson and was staged by British star photographer Rankin]   Rankin also produced the campaign's short film. For Waris Dirie the photo shoot with Rankin in London was a comeback as a model.
Desert Flower Center: On September 11, , Dirie as patron opened the world's first holistic medical center for the treatment and care of FGM victims in Berlin together with the Waldfriede Hospital as a cooperation hospital of the Desert Flower Foundation.
The construction of the first three "Desert Flower schools" in Sierra Leone was announced in early There is also a library and a computer centre. In March , Dirie was attacked in her home in Vienna , Austria. Paulo A. Dirie apparently suffered minor injuries when her assailant threw her to the floor. The attacker then left in a taxi, only to return later on foot to smash one of the building's ground-floor windows.
He was arrested when neighbours called the police,  and was later given a five-month suspended sentence by an Austrian court. It was reported that the suspect had met Dirie six months earlier when his brother was working at her previous residence in Wales.
He later broke into that home and stole items of her clothing. In another incident, during the early hours of 5 March , Dirie went missing for three days while staying in Brussels , Belgium. She was found alive on 7 March , by a Brussels policeman. Contrary to popular belief, Dirie is not related to fellow Somali model Iman , the widow of David Bowie. In her book Desert Flower , Dirie states that Iman's mother was good friends with her aunt, a relative with whom she once lived during her time in London.
Since Dirie lives in Gdansk , Poland. Temporarily also in Vienna. She is mother of two sons Aleeke, Leon. Aleeke, the older of the two, comes from a relationship with jazz musician Dana Murray.
Since March , Dirie has held Austrian citizenship. The book that describes Dirie's genital circumcision, her adventurous escape through the Somali desert and the rise to a world-famous supermodel, becomes an international bestseller and appears in over 50 licensed editions.
Over 11 million copies have been sold worldwide to date, 3 million in Germany alone number 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from 11 to 17 January and from 25 January to 18 July A dangerous adventure, as Somalia has been plagued by civil war and famine for years.
Her second book, which will also become an international bestseller first place on the Spiegel bestseller list from 8 to 28 April and from 13 May to 23 June , describes the trip to her home country. Genital mutilation is not only practiced in Africa, but also in the western world.
It reports on encounters with victims and perpetrators, on their research, setbacks and successes. Dirie says about this book on the website of the Desert Flower Foundation: "This is my most personal book. There are simply wounds that don't want to heal.
My longing was great to meet my mother again, to forgive my mother, but I had to realize that love and suffering are often inextricably linked. Working on this book was a painful but vital experience for me. In this book Dirie talks about her life in her new, white homeland - and about her longing for Africa and her deep desire to help her home continent free itself from poverty, outdated traditions and dependence.
Little Safa comes from a bitterly poor family in Djibouti. Raised in a slum, she is selected for the role of little Waris Dirie in the biopic of the world bestseller Desert Flower. The dramatic scene, in which the little girl is violently circumcised, makes people cry in cinemas all over the world. In real life, Safa is still intact. Dirie is all the more horrified when she hears that Safa's genital mutilation is imminent. And she does everything in her power to save the girl from this cruel practice.
Together with her Desert Flower Foundation team, Dirie publishes her first reading book for children at African schools. The book tells the story of the little "desert flower" Waris and her brother Mo, who go on a journey together to discover their home continent Africa.
On their adventures they get to know the flora and fauna of Africa. In addition to the story, the book also contains numerous writing exercises, which are intended to promote the reading and writing skills of children. On March 7, , in the presence of Waris Dirie, it was announced at a press conference at the theater St.
Gallen , Switzerland that her extraordinary life story would become a musical. The lyrics are by Frank Ramond. The music is contributed by producer and composer Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen wrote the music for " de Luftballons " by Nena. On February 22, the musical was premiered at the theater St.
Gallen in the presence of Waris Dirie. After bestseller book and film , her life story is also present on the theatre stage. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Waris Dirie. Galkayo , Somalia. Parents — : Oyster, Jane E. Sloan, ed. Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World, Volume 1.
Retrieved 2 April Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 13 July Retrieved Retrieved 10 July Daily Front Row. March 7, British Vogue.
Archived from the original on Die Presse. July 8, January 29, — via www. November 29, March 16, Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina". Female genital mutilation. Clitoridectomy Dysmenorrhea Dyspareunia Gishiri cutting Husband stitch Infibulation Keloid scars Pelvic inflammatory disease Rectovaginal fistula Vesicovaginal fistula. Female genital mutilation Activists against female genital mutilation.
Categories : births Ethnic Somali people Living people People from Galkayo Somalian emigrants to Austria Austrian female models Austrian women novelists Somalian actresses Austrian film actresses Activists against female genital mutilation Austrian women's rights activists Naturalised citizens of Austria PPR company people Somalian female models Somalian women novelists Somalian women's rights activists 20th-century Austrian novelists 21st-century Austrian novelists 20th-century Somalian women writers 20th-century Somalian writers 21st-century Somalian women writers 21st-century Somalian writers Somalian health activists Violence against women in Africa.
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Dirie escaped an impoverished childhood in Somalia and, largely through serendipity, became a sought-after model. Eventually, in a magazine interview, she told of being forced to undergo ritual female circumcision as a young girl, a brutal process also known, more accurately, as female genital mutilation. She became a United Nations spokeswoman against the practice. Liya Kebede, herself a model, gives a credible performance as Ms. Dirie, who fled her family at 13 to avoid a forced marriage and ended up in London. Sally Hawkins is a treat as the salesclerk who reluctantly befriends her there, and Timothy Spall provides his usual quirkiness as the photographer who discovers her scrubbing floors in a humble restaurant. The film, based on Ms.
‘Desert Flower’ Tells Story of Waris Dirie
Inspirational, dramatic and extraordinary - the autobiography of a Somalian nomad circumcised at 5, sold in marriage at 13, who became an American model and is now at the young age of 30, the UN spokeswoman against circumcision. Waris Dirie the name means desert flower lives a double life - by day she is a famous model and UN spokeswoman on women's rights in Africa, at night she dreams of her native Somalia. Waris, one of 12 children, was born into a traditional family of desert nomads in East Africa. She remembers her early childhood as carefree- racing camels and moving on with her family to the next grazing spot - until it came her turn to meet the old woman who administered the ancient custom imposed on most Somalian girls: circumcision. Waris suffered this torture when she was just five years old. Then, aged 12, when her father attempted to arrange a marriage with a 60 year old stranger in exchange for five camels - she took flight. After an extraordinary escape through the dangerous desert she made her way to London and worked as a maid for the Somalian ambassador until that family returned home.