Emerging Photographer Fund – 2014 Finalist
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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
EPF 2014 – finalist
Taken is a long term work aiming to a book, which has a diversity of stories from circumcised women who share their struggles in daily life resulting from an incident that caused irreversible mental and physical consequences for the rest of their lives.
Female genital cutting has been widely judged as a procedure against human rights and as a serious violation against women’s sexual independence. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 140 million mutilated women in the world. Female genital mutilation is a tradition practiced worldwide in 28 countries. As a project Taken aims to offer information about the dangers and horror of female genital mutilation and will be done together with female activists around the world for seeking a concrete change to stop the tradition of FGM.
The causes of female genital mutilation include a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities. The tradition stems from the belief that woman’s sexual organs are considered to be impure. FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behavior, linking procedures to premarital virginity and marital fidelity.
The project includes stories of FGM survivors from 10 different countries. As a book Taken works as a platform to bring the tabu of mutilation and female sexuality into a more deep public discussion.
Meeri Koutaniemi, 26-old freelance photographer, was born in Lapland and lives currently around the world. Koutaniemi started as a photojournalist through her independent projects abroad. Koutaniemi does documentary photojournalism on issues concerning human rights and minorities, and combines her work with political activism.
Koutaniemi has worked as a photographer and a journalist in over 30 countries and filmed documentary movies in Bolivia and Mexico.
In 2014 Koutaniemi won the FreeLens Award in Lumix photo festival in Hannover with her exhibited documentary work Taken. Koutaniemi was selected as a participant to Joop Swart and VII Masterclass in 2014.
Koutaniemi is a founder member in an Italian Photo Agency Echo and belongs to Finnish Collective 11. In 2012 Koutaniemi received the Memorial Award of Tim Hetherington in United States and the Memorial Award of Carina Appel in Finland 2013. In 2012 and 2013 Koutaniemi was selected in Finland as the Photographer of the Year.