Every 10 seconds, a girl under the age of 12 is a victim of genital mutilation on the planet. A taboo gesture whose consequences go far beyond the spectrum of sexuality, to attack the well-being, the health, even the integrity of the mutilated woman. A documentary of rare intimacy takes stock.

It is an unprecedented foray into the experiences of a handful of Canadian women that Koromousso offers us, presented these days as part of the Montreal International Documentary Meetings (RIDM). Co-directed by Habibata Ouarme and her partner, mentor and established filmmaker Jim Donovan, the film offers a journey between Quebec and the Ivory Coast, where a 43-year-old “little sister”, her first name Safiata, takes off with the director to receive a blessed reconstruction operation.

In the background, the ambiguous position of Canada, where the practice of excision is certainly prohibited, but where reconstructive surgery is, if not non-existent, at least difficult to access. Certainly unknown.

“The idea, basically, is really to get women out of victimization and to create a healing process,” summarizes Habibata Ouarme, interviewed last week, just after the launch of her film in Morocco. , where he visibly stirred minds. And that’s intentional. “There is a debate,” she illustrates. And it must be done. »

Jim Donovan makes no secret of his desire to make things happen.

Koromousso means “big sister” in Ivory Coast. And if the older sisters watch over the younger ones, if we say that it takes a village to raise a child, “it also takes Koromousso to make a village”, we say in the film. It probably also takes a Koromousso to accompany her “sister” to an important operation like this…

Such an invitation to multiply “big sisters”, here as elsewhere (and it will take a lot, when we know that according to UNICEF, more than 200 million women aged 15 to 49 from 31 countries have suffered female genital mutilation), the film offers a unique exercise in sharing, exchange and freedom of speech, between women, on the subject, the likes of which we rarely hear. “There is nothing that explains why you cut off a woman’s clitoris”, “I want my missing piece”, “I want to experience it, I want to feel it”, “I want to experience this sensitive woman whose people are talking ! “.

If the film attempts to explain this practice as old as it is barbaric, with ancestral and religious roots, Habibata Ouarme sees it above all as a relic of “patriarchy”.

Not to mention all the psychological repercussions associated with it: “you feel inferior”, “diminished”, will say the famous Safiata, who we follow here into the operating room, in a moment of great emotion, compared here to a “rebirth” and a gesture of “rebellion”.

His smile upon leaving is infinite, priceless, even if weeks of convalescence await him. “I am a complete woman […], with all my pieces. »

If some scenes are difficult to watch (notably certain memories brought back, screams and smells, and so much trauma), others will make you laugh a little. The power of solidarity is limitless, we must believe. Moreover, even if we know that traditions die hard, the director remains hopeful.

“Absolutely,” she replies without hesitation. We use social networks a lot today and the message gets across well. Information is shared very quickly. People talk and young people get involved in the debates. We feel a change coming. It takes a long time, bringing change to the community is difficult, but I have hope. ” To have.