Guest blog by Christine Ashley, Volunteer Counsellor, Childline.
I cannot believe that I had not realised the full extent of FGM until the 28th January 2013! Being a Volunteer Counsellor for Childline we are very privileged to be allowed to attend different talks/workshops and FGM was the topic of one of the many talks I attended.
Ann-Marie Wilson, Director of 28 Too Many delivered the talk to around 30 at Childline and we were all very moved by what she had to tell us. It was certainly an eye opener! I have since read up on FGM and found out that 28 Too Many are doing such fabulous work to try and educate people about trying to stop the culture of FGM not only in Africa but here in the UK too.
Watching Casualty on Saturday night (the 1st episode relating to FGM) I could not believe that part of the storyline was about a young girl who I thought at the time, was clearly being taken abroad to be circumcised (FGM). This was so moving, well done to the BBC for showing this powerful storyline. The young girl clearly did not want to go and it showed her in hospital and throwing herself out of the hospital bed, clearly to ensure that she stayed in hospital and missed her flight, rather than face the ordeal of FGM. The second part of this storyline was to be shown the next Saturday and I could hardly wait to see how the BBC would deal with it!
What happened in the next episode was unbelievable it turns out that the young girl has already had FGM and it was her sister that was being taken abroad to be cut too and Tamasha her sister wasgoing along to chaperone her along with her mum who was heavily pregnant. Whilst Tamasha was in hospital having tests etc her Grandmother turned up and had organised for a doctor here in the UK to carry out the FGM and took her younger sister with her to have this barbaric op. Tamasha found this out and tried to stop the doctor from carrying out the illegal operation and they all ended up in a car crash. (All very brilliantly portrayed). They were all taken to the same hospital and there it came about that a doctor was prepared to illegally carry out the FGM here in the UK. Tamasha then found out by a call from her younger sister that even though the doctor could not carry out the FGM, the grandmother was going to carry it out instead, her sister said she was very scared. Tamasha then asked Zoe, a helpful doctor at the hospital, to help her and this ended with Zoe calling the police to go along with them to see if they could stop this illegal, barbaric procedure. Unfortunately they were too late and two out of the four girls had already had this awful procedure and one of them had lost so much blood she was unconscious, and ended up in the hospital too. The storyline was that she would be looked after by the doctors there and helped to get over this terrible ordeal for a young girl.
Whilst this was all going on Tamasha’s mother went into labour and whilst the nurses/doctors tried to examine her they found out because of the FGM she hadbeen sewn up so it was impossible to find out if the baby was OK, so they had to scan her instead, all very traumatic for the nurses and doctors and of course for Tamasha’s mum who had to have an emergency caesarean operation to have her baby, but thankfully the baby was born well.
I think that 28 Too Many are doing a grand job in spreading awareness of FGM and of course they need funds to do this, hence why I have just set up a standing order for them on a monthly basis to help them spread the word and help African women all over the World. This obviously cannot be undertaken without funds!
FGM is definitely as far as I am concerned child abuse and this cultural traditional procedure should be stopped. In order for this to happen we all need to stand together and somehow empower these woman and young girls. The character Tamasha said “It never stops hurting, it is always painful”. How must these young girls feel to have to live like that? So many young girls are dying and also those that do live after FGM because of the barbaric ways they are cut, cannot live a normal life again. Just think of the bravery of all those woman and girls that come forward not only to tell their heartbreaking stories, but also to live a life of their choosing which they are entitled to do.
If you, like Christine, want to get involved, donate or fundraise on our behalf, look for ideas on our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.