Shoreditch Sisters fight female genital mutilation

The Women’s Institute group is making embroidered vulvas for the campaign

A Hoxton woman fighting to bring an end to female genital mutilation (FGM), is urging readers to get out their needle and thread to make embroidered images of the female sex organs.

Tara Scott’s campaign Embroideries is backed by arguably the trendiest Women’s Institute (WI) in the country, The Shoreditch Sisters, and will launch in the sex shop of Body Shop Founder Anita Roddick’s daughter Sam.

FGM, or female circumcision, involves the removal of the external female genitalia, and in extreme cases the remaining labia are stitched together, blocking the vaginal entrance.

Some African, near Eastern and South East Asian communities carry out the procedure on minors for cultural and religious reasons, believing it ensures a girl’s chastity and therefore her chances of marriage – but the practice can kill.

Excessive bleeding and shock can happen immediately, and long-term health effects can include chronic pain, infections, and complications during childbirth.

The brutal practice struck a chord with 24-year old Tara several years ago, when she was given the near impossible task of arguing in its favour during a debating exercise for her anthropology degree at Goldsmiths University.

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She jumped on the idea to embroider vulvas and create a campaign, after reading Persepolis author Marjan Satrapi’s graphic novel called Embroideries.

“The book revealed that the colloquial term used in Persian to refer to the act of FGM is ‘embroidery,’” said Tara, who runs London Fields-based ethical fashion business Tara Starlet with her mum.

“We want to raise awareness about the horrors of FGM through celebrating the positive, beautiful and powerful traits of women and their bodies.

“Sam has kindly offered us her beautiful shop as a venue which I think perfectly compliments the theme of liberating the female sex organs and sexuality from this long standing oppression.”

Tara wants to collect as many 8” by 8” knitted or appliqu� “patches” as possible to make an art piece for the VIP launch night in Sam Roddick’s Covent Garden “erotic emporium.”

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