Meeri Koutaniemi

Meeri Koutaniemi

Meeri Koutaniemi (b. 1987) is a Finnish photojournalist who wishes to take photographs that make the viewers react. In recent years she has photographed freed child slaves in Nepal, Chechen asylum  seekers, Mexican gay men with HIV and African girls who have suffered from genital mutilation. Koutaniemi’s goal is to abate discrimination, political oppression and violence towards women. She believes that photographs can sensitize people to other people and cultures and – at best – inspire them to make a difference themselves.

Koutaniemi’s photographs have been awarded on many occasions. In 2013 and 2014 she won several categories in the Press Photo of the Year competition organized by the Finnish Press Photographers Association. At the International Photojournalism Festival of Perpignan 2014 in France she won the Daily Press Award for her series featuring two Maasai girls who had undergone female genital mutilation. Koutaniemi has said that her photographs don tell it all: “A photograph is a question.”

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    15-year-old Gladys and 14-year-old Beatrice came to the Narok safe house for the first time two years ago. There was no room in the safe house at the time, but the ministers managed to negotiate with the girls' parents that they return to school. "Our family has eight children, seven of which are girls. Three of our big sisters have been circumcised and they are married. They are not happy. My 14-year-old little sister Beatrice and I came to the shelter a year ago, because the fate of our sisters was waiting for us. We came here for the first time two years ago, but there was no space here then. The pastor went to our village to speak with the father, and because of that we went back to school and the conversations about circumcision and marriage stopped for awhile. We heard about the disadvantages of circumcision in Sunday School. It surprised us. We had thought that it was a good thing: we had never met a girl who had not been circumcised. "Gladys Dapash, 15 years.