Holy Hormones Journal: How is it that women have to stand before a UN Committee against torture to demand justice for crimes committed against their bodies? These women who are now elderly, our revered fore-mothers who underwent brutal and inhumane procedures called symphysiotomies during pregnancy (many of them in their 20’s experiencing and during their first pregnancy) – that involved breaking the patient’s pelvis – leaving it permanently enlarged and suffering from a lifetime of chronic pain, incontinence,walking difficulties, sexual problems and other issues.
Sadly, other women stood by and were involved in the torture of their sisters.
These barbaric and brutal experiments continue today -under much subtler and insidious guises. Women must ‘rise’ against violence against women in all forms.
Symphysiotomy victims tell the UN about cruel and barbaric childbirth operations
The survivors have brought their search for justice to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
March 10, 2014
The procedure – now described as barbaric, torturous and brutal – was carried out in Ireland until 1987.
Young women (and, in some cases, teenage girls) were subjected to the surgery which involved having their pelvises unhinged before, during or after childbirth.
“Their arms held down by midwives, their feet manacled in stirrups, high and wide in the lithotomy or ‘stranded beetle’ position, many recount how they screamed and struggled to get free as they were being operated upon, wide awake, in the height of labour, in front of a large audience of generally male students,” reads a 50-page submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).
…After these operations, in the vast majority of cases, they were still in the throes of labour. Survivors generally faced further hours of labour after theses operations, two days in one case.”
The Survivors of Symphysiotomy’s (SOS) complaint to UNCAT, submitted today, outlines how 24 hospitals and maternity homes across Ireland favoured the procedure over Caesarean Section, long after the practice had been discontinued in other developed nations.
According to the advocacy group, the State failed abjectly in its duty to prevent “dangerous and maverick medical practice”.
“The performance of these mutilating childbirth operations in the absence of medical necessity and without patient consent constituted torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Ireland has violated its obligations under international law,” says SOS chairperson Marie O’Connor on the publication of the document, which identifies hospitals and doctors – including the now infamous Michael Neary.
Survivors believe their complaint is still eligible (despite the events taking place before the 2002 ratification of the Convention Against Torture) because of a precedent set by another case taken against Azerbaijan which was allowed because the effects of violations continued after it came into effect.
About 1,500 symphysiotomies were carried out in Ireland between 1941 and 1987. Some 300 of these patients are still alive today.