Hillingdon Hospital midwife gets inspirational woman of the year accolade

A Hillingdon Hospital midwife has been named as one of the BBC’s Inspirational Women of the Year, following her work with victims of Female Genital Mutilation.

Aissa Edon, who recently told the BBC about her own experiences as a victim of FGM herself as a child in Mali, established the Hope Clinic, a centre based in Southall, in 2014 to help women that have been victims of FGM.

The centre provides help and advice and around 100 women attended in its first 6 months.

Aissa, who was awarded the Mary Seacole Leadership Award in 2015, in recognition of her work, said: “These were all pregnant women who were referred and voluntarily attended. But there are so many more women out there that are either afraid or unsure how to seek help.”

She is working on a research project, which involves Hillingdon Hospital, aiming to evaluate FGM care in the UK.

This focuses on the psychological needs of women who have undergone FGM, working with both the women affected, and their partners. The project includes five other UK hospitals and the findings should be published at the end of this year.

Community midwife Aissa, who has spent over 10 years working with victims in France, Belgium, Switzerland, said: “Raising awareness is the first stage, but to truly tackle FGM we need to focus on prevention and education. Because the consequences of FGM are so far reaching we need an approach that promotes education throughout society, including medical professionals, teachers and the police.”

She was also featured in the BBC World Service radio programme, Global Midwives, as part of being listed on the BBC’s Inspirational Women of the Year.

She told her own story to the BBC about when she was cut, saying: “Unfortunately I remember everything. I can remember the place, I can remember the smells. I can remember the shouting. And I remember the pain.”

UNICEF released new figures earlier this month which revealed that almost 200 million girls have undergone FGM in over 30 countries, half coming from Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia, and over 44 million aged 14 and under.

Over 20 countries have banned FGM with 5 making it a criminal action, but the issue is still widespread.

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