How to tackle the taboos of FGM

Birmingham midwife Alison Byrne runs a clinic for women affected by FGM. It provides help with the physical and psychological legacy of FGM and raises awareness about it. All nurses and midwives should routinely ask women if they have been cut, says Ms Byrne.

It was back in 2002 when midwife Alison Byrne first began to see patients with female genital mutilation (FGM). ‘No one knew what to do,’ she recalls. ‘Clinically, both as a nurse and a midwife, you need to know what you’re doing, otherwise it is scary.’

Today, as a specialist midwife for FGM at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, she runs one of only 16 specialist clinics in the UK, ten of which are in London. ‘Ours is a self-taught service and every day is a learning curve,’ says Ms Byrne.

Women are routinely asked by their midwife whether they have been circumcised or cut

The clinic runs every Friday with seven appointments, but Ms Byrne also sees women with FGM and who are not pregnant on an ad hoc basis. For them, issues may include an inability to consummate their marriage,


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