“This play made me realise the horror that many women like myself have been through. No one should suffer anything like this so this is why it’s important to raise awareness about FGM.”
These are the words of Angela who, like myself and most of the audience at the “Cuttin It“ play, found it hard to hold back the tears while witnessing the heartbreaking reality for too many women who have hidden a painful secret.
Female genital mutilation is the horror that draws together Muna, Iqra and millions of women around the world who still today are victims of this abuse.
Muna and Iqra are the two characters of this award-winning play. Both from Somalia, they emigrated to England, United Kingdom at a young age. These two girls are played by Adelayo Adedayo and Tsion Habte respectively. Even though they are both fifteen, go to the same school and share the same cultural background, they have very different stories and personalities.
Iqra is an orphan of Somalia’s civil war; she lives in a council flat with someone that she calls ‘auntie’. She is very attached to her roots, a trait symbolised by her strong Somali accent.
Muna is much more integrated into British society and culture. She speaks south London slang, she wears fashionable clothes and slistens to Rihanna’s music. She is also extremely funny, a characteristic that is important in this case, as it balances out the dramatic nature of the play.
Even their reaction towards the violence they have suffered is completely different. Muna is very angry about it and she is scared that the same thing will happen to her little sister. Iqra thinks that is part of the process of becoming woman and it has to be done.
Iqra’s attitudes shows the sad reality of how FGM is normalised among women from a young age, making them accept this “tradition” as a necessary rite of passage.
FGM is a particularly sensitive subject to represent on stage, but the young playwright Charlene James definitely did a good job. The script is very well written and the way in which she has shown the contrast between the two different sides of the same reality was very clever. The two characters look and act just like any other girl, making their stories believable and easy to relate to.
“The performances were absolutely outstanding as both actresses were completely engaging with the audience,” says audience member Anthony.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed by this play. I didn’t lose my attention not even for a second. The actresses were incredible!”
Almost one in 20 (4.7%) women living in Southwark are estimated to have experienced this violence. ‘Cuttin it’ serves as a powerful call for action.
What makes this play even more convincing is the fact that Charlene James was inspired by a “The Cruel Cut“, a documentary featuring FGM activist Leyla Hussein, and by research findings regarding FGM in the UK.
In fact, a shocking study by City University London and women’s charity Equality Now reveals that 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales are estimated to be living with the effects of FGM. Even more shocking is that the London borough of Southwark has the highest percentage of women in England and Wales who has suffered the brutal practice. Almost one in 20 (4.7%) women living in Southwark are estimated to have experienced this violence.
“Cuttin It” serves as a powerful call for action, as UN figures show a further 15 million girls between 15 and 19 years old are at risk of FGM before 2030.
The Cuttin’ It theatrical production will be showcased at the Royal Court Theatre until 13 July 2016. For more information check out the website.