Time Code Pictures (name and title of interviewee) Sync (voiceover or sound bite)
00’00” Front slate written text There are currently 125 million women in the world who have undergone FGM
00’09” Slate written text A film by Judy Aslett and Steve Holloway
My name is Halimatou Ceesay and I’m a Gambian student and journalist. When I was 9 years old my grandmother took me to see a woman who cut off my clitoris. I am now campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation and I want to end this practice in a generation.
00’30” Pics in radio station My campaign is taking me to radio stations all over the country
00’36” NAT SOT “And I can feel the pain. I can feel the pain of the razorblade clearing my clitoris”
00’42” Pics talking to the men students at Insight Training Centre I’m talking to students in my college, especially the men who often know nothing about what FGM really is…
00’52” Pics at The Point paper And I’m writing about FGM in the newspaper where I work
Ptc This is my FGM story
1’04” Pics walking around at home I was born 25 years ago in Banjul. My family all have different views about FGM. My sister is married and has two children
1’25” ISATOU CEESAY
OLDER SISTER “We were both cut together so what do you remember?
“I was blindfolded. I felt the pain but I didn’t see the cutter because I was blindfolded”.
“I know you had Naffie cut so what does the future hold for her, for Rama?”
“I was cut so I will cut my daughter too. Yes, I am also planning to get her cut”
2’00” Pics mum and Halima My mother is very traditional but she supports me in my campaign and I know she is listening to some of my arguments against FGM.
2’10” KADIJATOU FATAYO
“Our great grandmothers do it, our mothers do it so we do it. We are following the tradition. If you don’t undergo FGM you will not know the lessons of the tradition. You will not know discipline, you will not know how to behave in society. That is the important part of it. How to have respect for your elders. But if we find out in this generation that people have come forward to show the harmful effects then we will listen to those health experts. That will mean we put an end to it.”
3’13” YAYA YARBOU
“What would persuade you to end FGM?”
“This has been tradition for a very long time but if research shows it is harmful to women then we should stop it”
3’36” Halima SOT “My sister is a very emotional person. She will not be present when her child is cut. But if the film is played and it is right there before her she might change. That might change her view towards cutting the younger one or any other one”
3’56” Halima and Awa walking into her house My best friend Awa got married last year. She was sealed after being cut which means she has just a tiny hole left to urinate and menstruate. This is quite common in The Gambia. Girls are not told this will cause problems when they marry so her wedding night was a shock
4’20” AWA. F. SISAY
FGM SURVIVOR “I was told that I have to be opened again because the place that was left for me was too small to have time with my husband. I was taken to a lady, to an old woman to open me up which I can say was a very difficult experience for me. I had to face the woman and look her in the eyes and she had to do what she had to do. I cried but it was something that I had to do.”
“What other side effects do you have?”
“Two month later after my marriage I was pregnant but after going through a scanning I was told that the baby was not breathing so they have to end the pregnancy. Another two months later again. Same process. Same problems. I was told by the doctor I have to wait for a year or six months before I get pregnant again”
6’12” Pics outside the school Awa and Halima talking
6’24” SOT “We can see this school that we both went to. We were cut when we went to this school. It is sad to see that most of these girls if not all of them have been cut. And we are entering the cutting season” .
6’39” The cutting season is over the Christmas holidays and I want to stop girls being cut now if I can.
6’49” Pics conference I’m preparing to go to a conference run by an organization called “Safe hands for girls” and the British Newspaper The Guardian. There will be 36 young activists and journalists from all over Gambia there.
Music sequence END FGM BORN PERFECT
7’17” Meeting Jaha One of the first people I meet is Jaha Dukureh, whose campaign against FGM has taken her all over the world.
7’33” conference I also meet and talk to fellow activists from different regions in Gambia. The idea is to build a national youth campaign getting the media behind us, telling our FGM stories.
8’37” ISATOU JENY – cut at 6 months
“SAFE HANDS FOR GIRLS”
LISA CAMERA – cut at 5 years
“SAFE HANDS FOR GIRLS”
HALIMATOU CEESAY – cut at 9 years “I am doing this because I am a survivor. I am doing this because all of us are survivors. I am doing this in order to protect the future generation. I have nieces I have a daughter. I don’t want her to be circumcised. So I continue engaging my family, especially my mother. At some point she apologised to me. She told me my daughter, I am sorry. I didn’t know this was the consequence of this practice. Had I known I wouldn’t have performed it on you.
“There was a lot of activity all around. People were dancing and there were drums and people holding mango leaves, dancing, so there was a lot of noise. Someone was holding my lappa and I was blindfolded so I couldn’t see anything. You were blindfolded but I remember being put on top of a lap of a woman and there was a cut.”
I can still remember when I was given away to this woman and two other women who are middle sized women but they are so powerful that when they grab you, you hardly even move. So the wrapper I am tied in, they just untie the wrapper and sat me down, they spread my legs, one hold my left and the other my right leg. Then she pulled out a new razorblade. I thought it was for something else. Then I realised she was going to use it on me. She pulled out the razorblade and began clearing my clitoris. Blood started oozing, I was even crying. I can still hear myself crying back in the days. You know, she started cutting as I was crying. And as a child, when you are crying you also look into the eyes of the one who is holding you. But no matter how long I looked into the eyes of this woman, this woman continued to cut me. She continues to cut me. They say the bond that a Mum and a child shares, this woman does not feel that. She does not feel the fact that I am a child and she is a mother. She’s just cutting me. After cutting me I sat in a pool of blood.”
10’28” As well as the stories we saw a film showing a baby and a young girl being cut.
10’40” Nat SOT “The video we have seen is very inhuman. My challenge to my fellow journalists and activists is what next?”
10’49” Halimatou to camera “What happened here today. They were looking to the point where they said stop it we have seen all that is happening. A blade. Cutting someone just like that and the blood is oozing out and the child crying. It has taught them and will make them come out and pronounce their stand in the fight against FGM.
11’11” People Praying One of the main justifications for FGM is religion, which is very important to people in The Gambia. At the conference we heard from a respected scholar who said that FGM is not in the Quran and some Imams are misleading people
BENGHAZI UNIVERSITY “We have seen in The Standard newspaper on the front page Imam fatty talking about FGM Good Must Stay, what’s your opinion on that?”
“My opinion is very simple, Mr Imam Fatty is talking about his opinion. If you look at the health side, health is very important in the Islam religion. If the doctors, Muslims, Muslim or Christian say it is harmful and not good for girls, why do we continue practicing? That is the question. So it’s not right to do this in the name of religion. Religion doesn’t accept that.”
“Tel us. Is the practice of FGM, particularly FGM on girls mentioned in the Quran?”
“No my sister it is not. It is not mentioned in the Quran at all”
12’51” At paradise The conference ended with a campaign song which we are now taking to play in local radio stations when we talk about FGM.
Music break Tell them. Tell them stop cutting you, stop restructuring you to start loving you, start appreciating all of you. Because you, you are a standing ovation you are symphonies of laughter you are the light at the end of the tunnel’.
13’20”” Radio station presenter SOT
Halima “You’re the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re a blessing. If you’ve just tuned in you are listening to the nation’s finest radio station 105.7 absolutely number one. Today in the studio with me I have Halimatou Ceesay and she is working with a campaign to end FGM in The Gambia. Halima you are a bold young person because it takes a lot of courage to come up and talk about issues like this. FGM is a tradition that has been here for a long time. It is embedded in our culture. All of a sudden you say you want to end this? It is a bold step. How do you do this?”
“That is a good question. We are telling young people that this is our generation. We need to break the silence to come forward and talk to people. Because if we don’t talk people won’t know what is happening. If we don’t talk they will not know what is in us. We must consult the young people. It is good to consult them because we are the ones who are cut.”
14’30” Halimatou outside the radio station “At first I was worried that when we go on air to talk to people their comments would be negative. But when we were on air and we have positive comments from people, particularly young people, it gives me hope that we can end this practice in a generation. In our generation because people are coming up with positive comments denouncing the practice so it is a good thing.”
Music sunset shots
14’58” Papers front pages. Halimatou to camera “Last night our President, the President of The Republic was on TV denouncing Female Genital Mutilation. He’s saying he’s banning the practice with immediate effect. The papers have picked it up and it is on the front page of every newspaper in this country. What needs to happen is that the bill that was thrown out of the national assembly just recently should be returned back to the national assembly so that we can enact a specific law banning the practice with consequences for anyone who practices FGM.”
15’32” Halimatou to camera in the car “We are going to meet Amadou. Amadou O. Bah who is also a participant at the media academy. Also the manager of the Bwiam Community radio which is on the west coast region of The Gambia”.
15’50” Meeting Amadou I’m going to be a guest on his radio show
15’59” Radio show
Amadou O. Bah presenter
“Broadcasting live on the frequency of 91.9fm my name is Amadou O. Bah welcome to another interesting and educative discussion. Personally I feel delighted to hear from the most powerful person in the nation denounce the act”
“When I heard my President denouncing the practice it gives me hope that what I went through other girls will not go through”
16’30” Many women who are cut have problems especially when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.
In the rural areas, many are treated by midwives like Saffia, but most women give birth at home so often they have suffered a lot before they get to a clinic.
16’49” SAFFIATON COKER JALLOW
MIDWIFE “The problems are definitely too much. The problem that we have is after they do this FGM they normally have a very tight orifice, some of them have scars, terrible scars and this scar doesn’t help the perineum to stretch. Normally when a woman is in labour and about to deliver the perineum will stretches so there will be a wide opening for the baby to pass. But if there is a scar it prevents the perineum from stretching and it leads to very bad complications like tears. It could be upper tear, which could damage the bladder or a lower tear which can cause rectal vaginal fistula which is an opening between the rectum and the vagina so stools are coming out through the vagina. These are cases where it is difficult to treat. There was a lady I also met she had FGM done and they did sealing and she was given to her husband for her to go and get married and he couldn’t go in. Before she got to the hospital they were taking her to all these places and they were trying to open it up with scalpel blade and everything, razorblades. Then when they got tired they brought her to the hospital and it was so bad. That woman went through real pain. That woman that I saw I was even in tears because I thought it wasn’t fair. It should come to an end definitely.”
18’35” Halima walking shots I’ve been told that a local woman who is a cutter is willing to talk to me. I want to see if she is now prepared to drop the knife, after the President has banned FGM.
18’49” ISATOU GIYA COLLEY
“In the old days we used one knife to cut all the girls. We have now changed to razorblades because many girls became sick. So we now use a separate razorblade for each girl.”
“ Every time we have a cutting ceremony, each girl brings her own razorblade.”
“Personally I have stopped cutting because I believe we can still educate girls about culture and entering womanhood without cutting them.”
19’49” I’m pleased this woman has stopped cutting girls at last, but there is another cutter I want to meet and interview. The woman who cut me.
20’01” Halima in the car “I’m going to meet my cutter. I’ve been looking for her for a long time now. I’ve made enquiries and they’ve told me that she’s still alive. So I’m going to meet her to ask her why she cut me and if she’s still cutting, why is she still cutting and if there is a possibility of her dropping the knife.”
20’24” Walking into the compound I’m feeling quite nervous
20’36” Halima outside compound “I went inside to talk to the cutter. I know she was cutting on Tuesday but she’s now told me that since the President has made a pronouncement banning Female Genital Mutilation in the country she doesn’t want to talk because she is afraid to talk”.
20’53” I am disappointed I didn’t get my interview with her because I wanted to look her in the eye on camera and question her. She didn’t recognize me but then that is no surprise because she has cut so many girls, thousands of girls just like me.
21’14” Newspaper and students My newspaper, The Point, is publishing my stories on a regular basis and they are helping to keep this campaign going. But it is also important to talk to people face to face. I have just been elected as Student President of my college and I’m going to use that platform to inform students about the campaign against FGM.
21’40” Halima talking to students “The campaign I’m working on right now is a campaign against Female Genital Mutilation. Some of you may have heard that last night the President was on TV denouncing the practice saying he doesn’t want anyone to practice Female Genital Mutilation.
21’57” fishing shots I love my country. I love my religion and I love most of our cultural traditions. But it is time for Gambia to move forward and end the tradition of FGM.
22’14” Music and artist voice She’s a curse upon her family, useless flesh. She must be cut, restructured, reanimated, fitted only for her man.
You’re a blessing, you are perfect. Never let anybody convince you otherwise.
Music and onscreen text Halimatou’s sister, Isatou, has now decided not to cut her daughter Rama
But worldwide a girl is cut every 11 seconds