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APRIL WRITE 2013 – Day 18 – SUMMER HOLIDAYS

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Welcome to Day 18 of the April Write 2013: a new era begins

My name is Angela Edgar and I am the creator of the April Write. Although I have taken a necessary, but reluctant back seat to hosting this year’s write, I have been reading all the posts. Whilst I offer my support and encouragement to you all, I adore exploring the fusion of spirit, trust and creativity that graces the pages of this wonderful group everyday with all that is shared.

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The ‘challenge’ of the April Write is not being afraid to tackle topics others are sometimes hesitant to cover, and to have a place where you can write freely and unhindered, and without fear of judgement. To spend time with like-minded creative souls, have fun and spread your writing wings. Over the years, we’ve covered a diverse range of what I would describe as reactive topics: not limited to racism, injustice, slavery, skin colour and abuse to name but a few and all chosen to elicit deep and meaningful conversation or emotions through poetry. Today, I hope will be no different, and that it will be a thought provoking one. This topic is something people may not know much about or have ever even considered its effects, but after today, you will know more than you did yesterday.

As has been the tradition, I’ve always drawn my inspiration and ideas for the daily prompts from the things that I see happen around me and in the world. Today’s topic was sparked by an article I read in the newspaper over the weekend and then by watching an episode of BBC TV medical drama ‘Casualty’.  As I read the interview with a 14 year old girl, she spoke of her experiences and what her mother did to her. As I watched the drama unfold on screen, a huge range of emotions overwhelmed me, having read the reality of it in the article. I was so angry that this takes place with the drama portraying the sense that it is often brushed under the carpet and not more formally addressed in public institutions like hospitals, schools etc for fear of being politically incorrect or stepping on cultural toes, with some people thinking it’s not their place to get involved. I applaud the BBC for tackling this in a drama in such a sensitive and understanding, yet very realistic manner.

I was going to ask you to write about this particular topic today, but instead I kept being drawn to the innocence of Cliff Richard’s song ‘Summer Holiday’ whenever I thought about it (listen to it here: http://youtu.be/rbNP5yqg7hc ). When I explain further, you might understand the context to where I am leading you with this and how it gives you more scope to write.

The article and TV episode titled ‘Unsilenced’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01rz3zc/  were focused on FGM – female genital mutilation – brutal female circumcision for non-medical reasons. The harsh reality of this cultural practice is rarely spoken of, is, it is no longer confined to just remote parts of Africa, but is happening to young girls in Britain today (and other countries in the world too). This painful, cruel act of mutilation is child abuse and a form of controlling women and their sexuality. It is forced upon on girls as young as 5 years old – sometimes with the permission, involvement and encouragement of their mothers and grandmothers for traditions sake. Some reasons cited for committing this heinous act include; preserving the chastity and virtue of a girl-child so she can be married off certified pure virgin, for hygiene purposes, to be accepted by their community, for a man’s pleasure and those reasons really serve no medical purpose. But, the effects of this procedure on these girls as they develop into young women, are almost always the same; constant pain, irregular or non-existent periods, urinary problems and recurrent infections, often leading to sterility, as well as sexual and psychological damage and more.

To give you an idea of how widespread this barbaric practice still is, the article I read quotes that  66,000 girls are already victims in Britain and 30,000 more are at risk, with hundreds of girls lined up for this as we head towards the summer holidays. Under the pretext of having a wonderful time away, the young girls are often taken abroad to have this done or ‘cutting parties’ are arranged on home soil with more than one child done at the same time. This practice has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and carries up to a 14 year sentence if you arrange or conduct FGM in the UK or abroad.

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But, back to Cliff Richard… Your topic for today is ‘Summer Holidays’ and the awful things that can happen under the guise of an innocent trip abroad, whether planned or not; like an unwanted arranged marriage, kidnap, honour killing, sex trafficking and forced prostitution, rape,  slave trade, etc. Nothing is as it seems.

I look forward to your writes and hope to present mine on this subject later on.
~ Angela

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