EYE-OPENING films encouraging people of all walks of life to engage in discussions about female genital mutilation (FGM) have been screened in Oxford.

Young champions for the charity Oxford Against Cutting (OAC) and local filmmaker Stephen Fontaine have produced three short films to demystify FGM.

Two of them, Are You Ready to Know? and Men Speak Up, premiered at the North Wall Arts Centre on February 11 before an audience of 70 people.

Students from four Oxfordshire secondary schools spent 12 weeks collaborating with OAC and Mr Fontaine to create the first film, which was shot at The Cherwell School.

Fatou Ceesay, the charity's community outreach director and an FGM survivor herself, features heavily in it talking to her daughter about the practice.

She said: "FGM is a form of child abuse that is deeply embedded in culture and can leave girls and women with life-long physical and psychological injuries.

"It is a difficult subject and many people feel uncomfortable talking about FGM to primary school pupils or grandparents, for example.

"We are hoping this will give people the confidence to have these conversations so that girls are protected and survivors are aware of the support available."

About 10 youngsters aged 13 to 15, including two boys, worked on Are You Ready to Know? and prepared by speaking to women who underwent FGM as children.

FGM is a cultural practice prevalent in parts of Africa and the Middle East that involves the ritualistic cutting of female external genitalia.

Mr Fontaine, from East Oxford, directed both films. He said: "It's vital that the issue of FGM is tackled by the younger generation. It is a taboo subject.

"The young people were bright about formulating their questions and brave about meeting survivors.

"They were briefed in the workshops and were all quite tactful; they made the survivors feel really comfortable and acted maturely."

Men Speak Up was filmed at an open event in Princes Street in Oxford last November in which men were invited to discuss their understanding of FGM.

It highlights the roles men can play in preventing girls from being cut and also supporting survivors in their community.

Mr Fontaine added: "It's awkward for men and for them to stand up and talk about it is a tricky one because they are usually outside FGM."

At Saturday's event visitors also listened to talks from medical professionals and OAC, which has also set up The Rose Community, a support network for survivors.

All-female Oxford and Oxford Brookes University a-capella group In the Pink also performed a song they had written about FGM, Together We Stand.

Kate Agha, executive director of OAC, said: "Young people are amazing to work with. They have an innate sense of justice and are incredibly creative.

"There is a strong drive in the UK to end FGM in a generation and there is gathering momentum in Oxfordshire to help achieve this."

To watch the films visit tinyurl.com/hjo49fv and tinyurl.com/z96vpzc