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FGM: at last, the 'dangerous silence' is lifting
We were used to audiences of more than two million for our television series: it was called The Heart of the Matter and it dealt with moral dilemmas thrown up by current affairs. It ran throughout the Nineties, and somewhere within that span we broadcast an episode called "A Dangerous Silence". What a fateful title that was, and how unfortunate that it became all too tragically true. Because "A Dangerous Silence" dealt with female genital mutilation: now breezily referred to as FGM, but in those days spoken of in whispers among the few who knew about it.
We came by our stories in the way most journalists do, drawing extensively on newspaper reporting, contacts, rumour and our own instincts. My memory – increasingly prone to error – tells me that a schoolteacher who wished to stay anonymous rang to tell us about her anxiety about some of her young pupils. It seemed a surprising number of them were going off back to their country of origin for an extended holiday throughout the summer, and she had a suspicion it was because families were planning to have them "cut". We began to follow up the story.
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