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#SayTheirName: British soap stirs emotion with Muslim family storyline

The hashtag was inundated with tweets, which inspired soap actress to create a Twitter account dedicated to tackling the subject of 'stillbirths'

Nabila Pathan

Published: Updated:

Heartbreaking scenes of parents experiencing a stillbirth prompted viewers of British soap opera EastEnders to take to social media to praise the performances of the actors playing the fictional British Muslim family the Masoods.

After the episode was aired by the BBC, Rakhee Thakrar, who plays grief-stricken mum Shabnum Masood, took to Twitter to encourage grieving parents to share the name of their still-born child following the hashtag #SayTheirName.

She kick-started the trend by posting a photo of Zaair, her character’s baby boy. This led to parents posting photos of their lost babies in the hope of reducing the sense of taboo surrounding the issue of stillbirths.

The hashtag was inundated with tweets, which inspired Thakrar to create a Twitter account dedicated to the cause.

The account description reads: #SayTheirName campaign. For babies and children who don’t get a tomorrow, say their name.”

Tackling the emotional subject of stillbirths, EastEnders worked closely with the stillbirth charity Sands on the challenging storyline.

Thakrar said on a BBC blog post: “In the UK, 3628 babies were stillborn in 2013, that’s one in every 216 births; a shocking fact I’ve come to learn during my preparation for telling this story.

“It is an experience that profoundly changes a person’s life forever, and we feel a heavy responsibility to tell the truth of this. Our hope is that we can encourage people to talk about their experiences and their babies that have died.”

EastEnders airs on BBC1 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Viewers in the UK can catch up with episodes online on BBC iPlayer.