Saturday 20 October 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Our godlike 'butchers' must be cut down to size

Blaming religion for the brutal practice of symphysiotomy is too simplistic, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

LIAM Neeson once appeared on a chat show with Clive James and admitted that reading Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus had revolutionised his understanding of male/female relationships.

What he chiefly learned is that a woman will say something is bothering her, and a man will immediately leap in to offer possible solutions. The woman will listen, but still feel dissatisfied, because what she was looking for at that moment was not logic but empathy and reassurance. When it comes to the Walsh report on symphysiotomy, the Government's problem is that it is acting like a man.

Here is a group of women who, as young mothers from the Forties onwards, were subjected to a brutal practice, whereby the pelvis was surgically enlarged in order to facilitate normal childbirth -- a procedure carried out in preference to Caesarian section, many believe, on purely religious reasons, because a woman could have multiple symphysiotomies whereas there was a recommended limit of four Caesarians. As a result, up to 1,500 women have suffered a lifetime of physical discomfort, including chronic back pain and incontinence, the cause of which some did not even realise until late in life.

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