Student midwives taught to spot the signs of FGM and honour-based violence

  • Report by Jennifer Buck

Student midwives and nurses at Manchester University are now being educated about FGM a and honour-based abuse, in the hope they can protect and help people in the future.

Female genital mutilation is now against the law, but only became a criminal offence in 1985.

Khatra Paterson lives in Cheshire and has been a nurse and midwife for more than 30 years.

At the age of 10 she was taken from England to Djibouti in Africa on what she thought was a holiday with her uncle, for years she didn't realise she had suffered FGM, organised by her mother.

Khatra Paterson was the victim of FGM aged 10 Credit: Khatra Paterson

Khatra said: "I thought I was going on holiday so I was excited but then to get there and realise this was not a holiday like you or I understand a holiday is, it was an event that was going to change my life forever, it was painful and it's a subject I've never really spoken about because it's kept in secrecy, my Mum said we can't talk about it because people won't understand"

FGM is an act still accepted in many societies - said to be aimed at reinforcing male domination and suppressing female sexuality

Khatra is a survivor who has chosen to share her story for the first time with student midwives and nurses so they can help others like her.

Khatra spoke to the students at Manchester University about her own experiences with FGM Credit: ITV Granada

After her lecture, one student said: "Actually hearing it from someone who has experienced it and hearing her story was really emotional and it's just about recognising the violation to women and to girls."

Savera UK is a Merseyside based charity that helps those suffering honour based abuse, their founder spoke to the students about Shafilea Ahmed, a teenager from Warrington killed by her parents for refusing an arranged marriage.

Afrah Qassim says future nurses and midwives could be the difference, as health settings are often the one chance that a potential victim has to speak out.

Afrah said: "That one chance rule is so important because we need to take it seriously, if they disclose that there is a risk of FGM, if they mention they are being threatened by any harm because of honour based abuse."

What is FGM?

FGM, or female genital mutilation, is a practice prevalent across the globe in some communities, but mainly in West and East Africa, where external female genitalia is removed or damaged for non-medical reasons. It has been illegal in the UK since 1985.

There are four different types of FGM ranging from the removal of the clitoris (Type 1) to creating a seal to narrow the vaginal opening (Type 3). All other harmful procedures to the genitals are classed as Type 4.

FGM support

NHS FGM support

NSPCC FGM helpline

FGM National Clinical Group

Forward (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development)