Local medical staff are reaching out to remind the community about a range of services that support women affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – also called cutting and female circumcision – following the UK’s first conviction.
At Whipps Cross Hospital a dedicated team provide a walk-in service with staff who are especially trained in caring for women who have experienced being cut.
The team provides ‘dignified and supportive’ care to women who are experiencing symptoms, as well as to women who are pregnant and those wishing to have a cervical smear test. Mental health support, information and advice is also available.=
Run by Barts Health NHS Trust alongside Waltham Forest CCG and Waltham Forest Council, the dedicated clinic includes a specialist gynaecologist, midwife, psycho-social practitioner, a sample taker and access to interpreters.
The walk-in clinic is held on the final Monday of each month from 9am-12pm at the Perineal Clinic, Area A, Outpatients building, Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, London E11 1NR.
Reeba Oliver, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Barts Health NHS Trust who runs the clinics said: “We offer a specialist service for FGM survivors, particularly those who avoid having a cervical screening test because of the fear that a vaginal examination evokes due to the psychological trauma they have experienced.
“FGM has serious health consequences that go into adulthood; there are long-term emotional, psychological and physical effects from the damage caused. I strongly encourage women in the borough to use the service where they will be treated with support, dignity and understanding.”
Cllr Naheed Asghar, Cabinet Member for Health and Voluntary Sector Partnerships, said: “FGM has been illegal in our country for more than 30 years. It is a barbaric and outdated practice that has no place in the 21st century. It’s shocking and saddening to see young women undergo this harmful procedure and carry its horrific effects for the rest of their lives.
“This is the first conviction for FGM in the UK, but too often those who perpetrate this kind of abuse go unpunished. I’m urging everyone in the community who knows someone who is at risk of undergoing this damaging practice to report it – you could save a young girl from a life sentence.
“Help is available in for those who have undergone FGM and for those who are at risk, such as the cervical screening clinic at Whipps Cross that offers a specialist service for FGM survivors. No one should have to suffer in silence so do not hesitate to come forward and seek support.”
FGM (cutting or female circumcision) is illegal in England, across the UK and many other countries. If you or someone you know is at immediate risk please call 999. If you are concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or firstname.lastname@example.org