New Beginnings” by Mairead Cullen

09 February 2012

A radio documentary on female circumcision and the Alternative Rite of Passage in Londiani, Kenya launched by Senator Ivana Bacik on International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.

A radio documentary focusing on the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya was unveiled by Senator Ivana Bacik on Monday 6th February 2012 at 6pm in the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

In 2011, documentary maker Mairead Cullen received funding from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to travel to the Kipkelion district of Kenya to find out more about the age-old, and now illegal practice of FGM. Her journey is documented in this heart rending radio documentary, entitled, “New Beginnings”.

Director of Friends of Londiani (FOL), Helen Concannon travelled to Kenya with Mairead, and it is Helen’s research as a DCU student that formed the basis of the radio documentary. FOL has worked with the local communities on the ground in Kenya since 2002 and Helen has been collecting information since 2007 on the attitudes towards female circumcision and the Alternative Rite of Passage.

Senator Bacik spoke to the group about FGM in Ireland and the work being done to bring about the FGM Bill in Irish law. This will be discussed on Thursday 9th Feb in the Dail and hopefully passed into law in the near future. Senator Bacik explained the complexities of making FGM illegal here and around the world and highlighted the numbers of people living in Ireland at risk of FGM.

The documentary was first broadcast on ROS FM Community Radio in December 2011, and an extract will be broadcast, as part of ‘The Curious Ear’ on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 11th February at 6.45 pm. The full documentary will be available as a podcast on http://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast from Monday, 6th February, or online at: www.soundcloud.com.

The Simon Cumbers Media Fund, which has provided the support for this project, was established by Irish Aid in memory of Irish journalist Simon Cumbers, who was killed in Saudi Arabia while working with the BBC in 2004. The fund is designed to broaden and deepen coverage of global development issues in the Irish media. Further details on the Simon Cumbers Media Fund and a list of other projects supported by the Fund are available on www.simoncumbersmediafund.ie

Further information on the Irish charity Friends of Londiani and their community development projects including the female circumcision abandonment programme can be found on www.friendsoflondiani.com If you are interested in copies of the research please contact helen@friendsoflondiani.com

Contact: Mairead Cullen Tel: 086-0555117 Email: mairead.cullen@gmail.com