Over 100,000 women in the UK have been affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) with devastating long-term consequences, including persistent pain. Pain Concern was awarded funding from Rosa: the UK Fund for Women and Girls to raise awareness of these longer term effects of FGM on survivors. We recorded a special episode of our radio programme Airing Pain in which Janet Graves (a former producer of BBC Women’s Hour) hears from FGM survivors and the healthcare professionals treating them about this culturally-embedded practice and how to uproot it.
In the programme, FGM survivors Hana Gibremedhen and Valentine Nkoyo speak about how being cut as children has impacted their psychological and physical health as well as their relationships. Nkoyo also explains how her Mojatu Foundation is working to mobilise opposition to FGM from within the communities affected.
Gilbremedhen’s experience of undiagnosed chronic pain after FGM highlights the lack of training and experience of treating survivors among many healthcare professionals. Clinics with experience in seeing women with FGM are vital, says Specialist Midwife Juliet Albert, if they are to get the care they need. Midwife, ‘fighter’ against FGM and founder of the Hope Clinic Aïssa Eden shares her story and stresses the importance of education in ensuring the safety of the next generation.
The programmes have already been embraced as important resources by organisations working to support those affected by FGM. The Women’s Resource Centre commented that ‘Having women tell their own stories was incredibly powerful’, while Dr Comfort Momoh, FGM Consultant and Public Health Specialist, described the programme as ‘Excellent, straight to the point and very clear’.
The radio programme Protect Our Girls is available to listen to on Pain Concern’s website. You can read more about the issue of FGM and chronic pain in this article from Pain Concern’s Pain Matters magazine.
We hope you find the resources we have produced useful and will share them with service users and colleagues. We would warmly welcome any feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.