FORWARD was recently very pleased to be involved in the production of a 4-day story line on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) broadcast on the BBC World Service ‘Westway’ programme, a long running series based around a health clinic managed by a diverse group of health professionals. FORWARD’s Director provided a half-day training to the production team before they started conceptualising the story.
The key figure in the episode was a Doctor who had been approached by a young girl who was worried that her mother was going to take her younger sister back to Sierra Leone to undergo FGM. The story line reflected the concerns of a UK based health clinic, with African, Asian and European professionals and how they were able to overcome their prejudices, lack of knowledge and fear of being labelled racist to take the necessary steps to protect the little girl from FGM. The climax of the story took place at Heathrow airport, where the doctor insisted that the Metropolitan Police at the airport used their powers to take the girl off the plane to prevent her being removed from the UK.
FORWARD acted as technical consultant for the programme to ensure that the African communities who listen to the BBC World Service were provided with accurate and up to date information on the health, sexual and human rights consequences of FGM as well as the position of the law in the UK. The episode was the last Westway ever to be broadcast on the BBC World Service.