American cable television channel MTV is launching drama series in Egypt with storylines on female genital mutilation, child marriage and sex work with the aim of generating debate around issues often seen as taboo.
The series will feature soundtracks to appeal to young audiences and popular local actors who will be trained on the issues to help stimulate debates via social media.
We will be using gripping plots based on true stories from young people so that we can destigmatise issues, debunk unhelpful stereotypes and catalyse social change
said Georgia Arnold, head of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
Egypt has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world, and progress on reducing child marriage has stalled, with the practice even rising in some regions, experts say.
Although Egypt has outlawed FGM, nearly nine in ten girls and women have undergone the widely condemned practice involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.
Egypt has also banned child marriage but around 17 per cent of girls are wed by their 18th birthday and two per cent before they reach 15.
Arnold hoped the show, which will be offered to other Arabic language broadcasters, would change attitudes around FGM.
“I’m really excited to be able to tackle this issue,” she added. “It looks like things are shifting slightly, but there is an enormous amount of work to be done culturally.”
- of women and girls in Egypt have undergone FGM