Call The Midwife Tackles Female Genital Mutilation In Latest Storyline

Anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali advised the makers of the BBC One drama on the groundbreaking episode

This Sunday’s episode of Call The Midwife (BBC1 8pm) will chart new territory as the sisters of Nonnatus House tackle female genital mutilation in 1960’s Poplar.

The BBC One drama will take a sympathetic look at the plight of Nadifa, a mother-to-be from Somaliland, who has undergone the procedure and is struggling with the after-effects.

Heidi Thomas, creator and writer of the series, told Woman’s Hour she had wanted for some time to explore the issue: “I have been interested in FGM for some time and it did seem to me that if we waited until 1962, the Somali community were beginning to settle and establish a foothold in the East End.”

An estimated 200 million girls have undergone FGM worldwide. The procedure involves the partial or total removal of the female genitals for non-medical reasons. UK hospitals now treat one FGM survivor every hour.

Nimco Ali, anti-FGM campaigner and co-founder of Daughters of Eve, advised the programme makers on the episode. Ali, who underwent FGM at just seven years old says that while the episode’s approach may “ruffle some feathers”, she was impressed with the “immense level of knowledge” the writers showed.

“[It’s about] setting yourself in the mindset that it was set in the 1960s – this was the language that they used,” she told the Guardian. “There is that authentic thread that runs from the realities of 1960s to the privileges and the work that’s waiting for us [as anti-FGM activists] in 2017.”

Ali hopes that viewers won’t feel overwhelmed by the trauma that FGM brings, but that they will feel heartened to act and support anti-FGM causes.

“If you look at the statistics around FGM they look massive, and there’s no way to come at it, but it’s one girl in one generation. It’s about breaking the cycle.”

“I’m hoping that… a lot of my sisters will see that they can have these conversations. That a midwife might not necessarily be of this culture but they understand and as women they can appreciate their experiences from a Somali perspective.”

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