Mrs. Goundo's Daughter is a documentary created by local filmmaking team Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater. The film chronicles the plight of West Philadelphia resident Mrs. Goundo, an expatriate of Mali and one of Philly's 50,000 African immigrants. In the film, Goundo seeks asylum on the grounds that if she is deported her 2-year-old daughter Djenebou will be subject to a crude procedure called female genital mutilation (FGM).
In FGM, parts of babies or young girls' genitals are sliced off. There is zero medical benefit. Severity ranges from cutting the tip of the clitoris to carving off everything external and sewing the vaginal opening almost completely closed. It's done with bottles, knives or razors and without anesthesia. In Mali, about 85 percent of all girls undergo FGM. The motivation is to cut girls' sexual desire, preserve virginity and make her less likely to cheat on a husband later on.
Mrs. Goundo's Daughter brings home the fact that FGM doesn't just affect other people in faraway lands. Djenebou, born here, is an American citizen. She lives in Philly. She'll go to school with our kids. Only a toddler when the film was shot, she's a pudgy tumble of cuteness in a hot-pink butterfly shirt. The thought of anyone taking a knife to this grinning baby is almost too much to bear.