FGM midwives in health boards as hospitals see 100 survivors

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Every health board in Wales now has a senior midwife who specialises in the care for women who are survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Four of Wales's seven boards said their maternity staff cared for around 100 women who presented with FGM last year.

It is estimated that more than 2,000 women in Wales are suffering from the effects of FGM.

Public Health Wales said it is collecting data on the issue every month via maternity services.

The maternity unit at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales (UHW) recorded the most cases of women presenting with FGM.

Staff there cared for 58 women last year and 67 in 2014.

'Stop immediately'

Karen Jewell, consultant midwife in public health, said: "If you look at the census data in Cardiff, then yes, we would expect to see women who have had FGM because of the ethnicity of this area.

"It's not something that any Cardiff midwife would be shocked to see. If I ask the midwives in the room who has seen a case of FGM, the majority will put their hands up."

Wales' long-established Somali community discarded FGM in the late 1980s, after women fleeing the civil war in Somalia presented at UHW.

Zainab Nur, of Cardiff-based charity Hayaat Women Trust, told Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme how the community turned its back on the practice.

She said: "It was the norm at that time for every girl to be done. I've always had the perception it was done for Islamic reasons.

"The local sheik did a bit of research and he said 'no, there's no mention of it all, this is forbidden: you should stop this immediately'. So, after that, the mothers and grandmothers vowed never to do it again to the next generation."

'Not changing'

But Dr Mwenya Chimba, violence against women director at Bawso, a charity which helps victims of honour-based violence from ethnic communities, said there were still concerns about attitudes to FGM in some communities.

She said: "I think it's true that there are those who have discarded the practice but there are other people who still practise FGM.

"We've come from where we can't talk about it publically, and are more sensitive to how we talk about it. However, you have to respect communities and not reduce them to FGM."

Eye on Wales is on BBC Radio Wales at 12:30 GMT on Sunday 6 March 2016

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