Police on Friday found Waris Dirie, three days after the Somali-born model who launched a worldwide campaign against female genital mutilation had vanished. Dirie, 43, appeared to be in good health and was being questioned by police about the disappearance, said Estelle Arpigny, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.
She declined to give further details, saying it was unclear what had happened since Dirie vanished early Wednesday. Belgian media reports said police found her Friday afternoon walking the Brussels’ Grand Place square. Hours earlier, police had announced they were launching a nationwide search for the former model, who had last been seen getting into a cab after a mix-up over a hotel.
Dirie gained international fame as a model posing in Chanel ads and acting in the 1987 James Bond movie “The Living Daylights” before launching her campaign against female genital mutilation in 1996. She shocked the world with a best-selling book “Desert Flower” that described how her genitals were sliced off with a dirty razor blade without anesthesia, and then stitched together.
Now a U.N. goodwill ambassador, she was due to speak on genital mutilation in Brussels at two conferences on women’s rights organized by the European Union, including one on Thursday attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
News of Dirie’s disappearance came a week after French police said they had found the body of another former model of African origin who had campaigned against female genital mutilation. Guinean-born Katoucha Niane was discovered floating in the River Seine in Paris.