It only takes an evening spent in front of the television to see that popular drama and soaps rarely shy away from tackling serious issues. On the contrary most appear to relish in depicting some of the grittier or more controversial aspects of our society. And yet, despite an estimated 20,000 girls thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK, the BBC is the first broadcaster to address the seemingly taboo subject in a mainstream TV drama.

The two-part storyline featured on BBC's Casualty, which concluded this weekend, is a welcomed move towards shedding much needed light on this appalling and illegal practice, and has started a much-needed conversation about how to better protect girls in the UK.

Female genital mutilation is a practice whereby girls have their external genitals cut away in the name of tradition. It is believed to be a preparation for adulthood and marriage and a way of ensuring that they are 'clean, chaste and faithful'. FGM is a hidden and rarely discussed issue, even within practicing communities. Awareness is sparse among the general population, with the media frequently taking an overly cautious approach and deeming it a minority issue; a problem too gruesome, culturally sensitive, or apparently too risky for meaningful public debate.

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