A GIRL FROM MOGADISHU
Dir Mary McGuckian | 113min | Belgium | Ireland | Morocco
‘A Girl from Mogadishu’ is based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed. Fleeing war-torn Somalia in 2006, she is trafficked to Ireland where as an asylum-seeking refugee, she undergoes a traumatic medical examination which reveals the extent of her mutilation as a child. Traumatized by the memory, she turns her experiences into a force for good, emerging as one of the world’s most foremost global activists against Female Genital Mutilation.
‘Silence may be the rust on the razor that threatened to cut my throat, but it was not my tongue they cut.’ Language: English.
Donna Ferguson discusses the film in The Guardian.
Listen to Jane Garvey interviewing Ifrah Ahmed on Woman’s Hour (10 Dec 2020) © BBC
The David Lean Cinema shares a proportion of the ticket price with the distributor when purchased through the link on this page or click here.
Available to watch for 48 hours after purchase.
Distributor – Together Films. No account required.
More reading on the subject matter of the film is below.
‘My name is Ifrah Ahmed, I am an Irish Citizen and a survivor of FGM’… This is how the Girl from Mogadishu consistently introduces herself on the world stage, as an international activist against FGM/C and this is her story…
Circumcised at eight years of age. Raped by wandering militiamen at twelve years of age. Fully infibulated again at thirteen years of age and then married off by her grandmother to a fifty-year old man who regularly beat her; Ifrah Ahmed runs away to a place she had once known as home in war torn Mogadishu to find it had become the kind of battleground now known as ‘Black Hawk Down’.
A neighbour, recognizing her as the daughter of a woman whose sister had emigrated from Mogadishu to Minnesota, undertakes to find a way to get her out and sends a message through the Somali grapevine to seek help on her behalf.
Within days, a stranger appears at the door to tell her that he has been sent by her aunt from Minnesota and that she should follow him. She gathers her things into a plastic bag and sets out on the most perilous journey imaginable up through war – torn Somalia into Ethiopia all the way to Addis Ababa Airport in the company of traffickers. Finally landing, not in Minnesota, America – but in Dublin, Ireland.
Not a word of English, no prior education and hardly an item of clothing against the cold, she finds the food bizarre but the welcome hearty in the Irish asylum-seeking system. Her fears begin to subside and her traumatic days, she thinks, are behind her, until a routine medical smear test elicits such looks of horror on the faces of her Irish doctors that she suffers a profound sense of shame.
They say that anger is the flip side of shame. Channelling the feelings on both sides of that coin, she reacts incredibly quickly, learns English at break – neck speed and unearths an enviable technical talent for harnessing social media.
Within months she is campaigning for better conditions for asylum – seekers arriving in Ireland. She galvanizes her fellow refugees into action and sets up the ‘United Youth of Ireland’ to campaign for more understanding of foreign immigrants in Ireland. Joining ‘Amnesty International’ she becomes one of their most effective activists.
She works with a number of other NGOs, including UNICEF on special projects related to FGM. And single-handedly harasses every politician in Ireland right the way up to the president to pass FGM/C criminal justice legislation in Ireland.
As an Irish citizen, she presents her testimony on behalf of Ireland’s MEPs on the occasion of the ratification of the UN Convention against FGM/C at the European Parliament and it is passed unanimously.
Thus commences her now lauded professional career as an international activist.