Torture scandal against Irish women

Survivor Ellen O Brien
Survivor Ellen O Brien

A group of Irish female survivors of a largely hidden form of ‘torture’ are currently seeking redress for the appalling cruelty they suffered.

People unfamiliar with the shocking and barbaric practice of symphysiotomy, will surely be horrified by what these women endured while giving birth in Ireland.

‘Survivors of Symphysiotomy’, has written to the United Nations (UN) with a submission claiming that the State has violated the UN Convention against Torture for its failure to initiate an independent inquiry and restitution scheme.

Symphysiotomy was a procedure that was unnecessarily carried out on women in Ireland, mainly from the late-1940s to the mid-1960s. It involved the breaking of the woman’s pelvic bone - commonly with a hacksaw - during childbirth.

The procedure was gradually replaced by the Caesarean section, but evidence shows it was carried out in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, until 1984. About 1,500 women had the procedure, of whom some 150-224 are still alive.

The submission to the UN claims symphysiotomy constituted torture because “severe pain and suffering, both physical and mental, were intentionally inflicted on women and girls, for reasons based on discrimination”.


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