Unveiling the Reality of Female Genital Mutilation

Explore the narrative of 'Call the Midwives' Series 6 Episode 6, shedding light on the dark secret of female genital mutilation (FGM) hidden within a family.

Unveiling the Reality of Female Genital Mutilation: A Call For Action

Author: Trishana Osbourne, (Training Coordinator at NESTAC)

"Call the Midwives" Episode 6 Summary: A Recap

In "Call the Midwives" Series 6 Episode 6, the narrative unfolds around Deka, a bright and hopeful young girl living in 1960s London with her older sister, Valerie. Deka's aspirations of becoming a nurse one day are overshadowed by the dark secret lurking within her family.

Valerie, Deka's sister, carries a burden hidden in the depths of her past: she endured the horrifying ordeal of female genital mutilation (FGM) during her childhood. Bound by tradition and silenced by shame, Valerie suffered in silence, her trauma veiled from her loved ones until the agonising truth emerged.

The memory of Valerie's ordeal, where her legs were bound and her genitals cut and sewn together, resurfaces as she faces the daunting prospect of childbirth complications. Her pain, both physical and emotional, reverberates through the family, casting a shadow over Deka's innocence and understanding.

For Deka, Valerie's plight remains an enigma, a perplexing puzzle she struggles to unravel. The harsh reality of FGM, shrouded in cultural norms and societal silence, challenges even the comprehension of seasoned health professionals. As Deka grapples with the complexities of Valerie's experience, she confronts the grim possibility that her own future may be marred by the same barbaric practice.

Urgency and Battles in the Fight Against FGM

Amidst the shadows of fear and uncertainty, the UK Government's recognition of FGM as a violation of human rights underscores the urgency of action. Maeve Cullinan, a Global Health Security Reporter from The Telegraph UK, shared horrific stories of FGM survivors and the ongoing battle that many health professionals like Victoria Shepherd face today amidst the “significant” decline in cases between 1994 and 2020. Victoria Shepherd leads a specialised antenatal clinic of National Health Services (NHS) midwives in inner-city Leeds, who witnessed the firsthand devastating impact of FGM, estimated to affect 137,000 women and girls (Cullinan, 2024).

According to Cable Network News (CNN) Edition, it was reported that a 13-year-old girl from Sierra Leone, almost the age of Deka from Call to Midwives, bled to death after undergoing FGM at the hands of a centuries-old secret. Women still engage in or facilitate the practice - locally or overseas - for fear of being “disowned and cursed”.

The UK government still struggles to sentence individuals who send their children away to participate in this horrific practice, whether pressured into it or not understanding the implications of FGM. The NHS is still struggling to keep up with the demands, though efforts are made to educate and provide a “health passport” to inform about the potential consequences of FGM.

How The SOS Clinic and The Guardian Project can Address The Problem?

There is a greater need for awareness in our community that might pose a significant threat to the UK. In response to this urgent need, NESTAC has pioneered initiatives like the Guardian Project and SOS Clinics, providing essential support and advocacy for survivors and at-risk individuals. The Guardian Project offers young girls like Deka individual therapy sessions and advocacy support, empowering them to assert control over their bodies and futures.

It's time to break the silence surrounding FGM and confront the fear of shame, stigma, and discrimination. Survivors of FGM, like Valerie, find solace and support in the compassionate care provided by SOS Clinics through free workshops and therapy sessions tailored to their needs.

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Cullinan, M. (2024). "It happened on Call The Midwife – now NHS nurses deal with thousands of cases a year." The Telegraph. [Online] 8 Feb. Available at: The Telegraph - FGM Cases [Accessed 19 Feb. 2024]

Edition.cnn.com. (n.d.). "FGM in Sierra Leone: An alternative to female genital mutilation could save countless lives, but can it succeed?" [Online] Available at: CNN - FGM in Sierra Leone [Accessed 19 Feb. 2024]

GOV.UK. (n.d.). "Female genital mutilation." [Online] Available at: GOV.UK - Female Genital Mutilation.

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February 19, 2024

Unveiling the Reality of Female Genital Mutilation

Explore the narrative of 'Call the Midwives' Series 6 Episode 6, shedding light on the dark secret of female genital mutilation (FGM) hidden within a family.
Read post