A maternity clinic for rape survivors has opened at the Royal London Hospital, in a UK first.
The clinic, specifically designed to provide specialist care for survivors of rape, will offer care during labour; ante-natal classes; pregnancy care and examinations; support for those planning to conceive; breastfeeding advice; post-natal mental health support and gynaecological exams and specialist advice on ensuring mental wellbeing during labour.
The clinic will be integrated into a regular maternity ward at the hospital, but those visiting the clinic will follow a different pre-natal plan. Help for women in other countries will also have the opportunity to use the service, with appointments being conducted out-of-hours, in the team’s own time.
In partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust, the scheme was created by My Body Back, a project working to support women who have experienced sexual violence. Founded by Pavan Amara, the project started in 2014 and run a number of specialist services including a cervical screening clinic.
Speaking of the decision to open the clinic, Amara said, “In our sessions, a lot of women said they wanted a baby, but they couldn’t face people touching them and they were worried they’d experience flashbacks and would feel totally out of control of their body.”
“A woman who had a baby already – about 15 years after being gang-raped – felt when she gave birth that there were lots of parallels, with lots of people standing around her, and the doctor put his hand into her vagina – that was somebody taking away her right to consent again.”
Continuing Amara said, “They don’t have to say what happened, although they can if they want to. Whatever they feel is right for them. We will then book then an appointment and take it from there.”
According to the latest figure released by the Office of National Statistics, one in five women between the ages of 16 and 59 in England and Wales have experienced some kind of sexual violence.
To find out more about the maternity clinic, or to learn more about My Body Back, click here.