A child’s hand held a flashlight. It was the only source of light in the dark mud hut. The child shined the light on her, revealing that she lay naked and bound on the floor. The light beam hit in between the girl’s bare thighs.

Women gathered in the cowshed. Animal leather was applied to the floor and Nasirian came to lie down on top of it.

It all happened quickly.

One of the ladies revealed an ordinary razor blade in her hands. This small tool would accomplish the mutilation. Nasirian cried and the floor was streaming with blood. The more she leaked, the more she screamed.

After few minutes, her genitals were completely unrecognizable.

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 29 countries. Girls’ circumcision has been illegal in Kenya since 2001, but among some tribes such as the Masai people, it remains a valued tradition.

The tradition stems from the belief that woman’s sexual organs are impure. The intention is also to reduce women’s sexual pleasure and thus women’s adultery.

Female genital cutting has been widely deemed a violation of human rights and a serious impingement against women’s sexual independence.

—Meeri Koutaniemi

Editors’ note: Meeri Koutaniemi’s work, along with photographs from all the LensCulture Emerging Talents 2014, were shown in an exhibition at the Galeria Valid Foto in Barcelona. Discover the work from all the winners on LensCulture.

The winners were also featured at photo festival screenings in Dublin, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Seoul and Amsterdam in 2014. Congratulations again for all their great work!