THE BRUTAL and inhumane practice of female circumcision in Africa and the efforts of women in trying to abandon to procedure have come under the spotlight of Limerick photographer Maurice Gunning.
The award-winning photographer from Clancy Strand in the city recently travelled to The Gambia in west Africa, alongside Alice McDowell, after they were awarded funding under the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to document issues of importance to Irish Aid’s development goals.
The fund was set up in memory of the journalist Simon Cumbers, 36, fron Navan, who was killed while working in Saudi Arabia in 2004 by terrorists.
Entitled Riverine: 9 Stories from The Gambia, their work, which will go on display in the Hunt Museum later this month, focuses on what he describes as a “quiet, yet powerful revolutionary movement” that is underway to protect female health and sexuality across the country.
In a series of intimate photographic portraits, the exhibition explores the landscapes of nine women: utilising interviews and recordings from their homes in The Gambia.
These women have made the life-changing decision to abandon the traditional practice of female circumcision. However, he notes that their actions to cease this controversial practice have not always been embraced by their communities, as it is widely regarded as a religious and cultural obligation.
“All nine women are forging a new life and livelihood for themselves, and most importantly, a new future for women in The Gambia,” he said.
Some 65 prints will go on display in the Hunt Museum.
It will be officially opened by Michael O’Flaherty, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, on Tuesday, November 24 at 6pm.
The exhibition will be open daily from Monday, November 23 to Sunday, November 29, from 10am-5pm, and from 2-5pm on Sundays.