Rape survivor opens the UK's first maternity clinic for sexual assault victims

Jenny Marc
Friday 10 June 2016 08:02 BST
My Body Back maternity clinic opens next month for rape survivors

The United Kingdom’s first designated maternity clinic for rape survivors will open in London next month.

The service, which will be available through the NHS at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, will ensure that women who have experienced sexual violence receive sensitive care tailor made for them.

“A lot of women who didn’t have children were telling me that they wanted to have children, but they weren’t because they were worried that all these tests and this whole maternity experience would bring up what had happened in the past with the assault,” explained Pavan Amara, founder of the My Body Back Project, which will run the clinic.

“That was really, really unfair because there’s no reason why somebody who has done that to you should have control of your life so far down the line.”

Ms Amara was raped as a teenager, which caused her to avoid seeking routine medical treatment for ten years.

“I didn’t go to the GP because it reminded me of forensic testing.”

Eventually, after realising that other victims of sexual violence had been behaving similarly, she decided to act by launching the UK’s first clinic dedicated to these women.

Since it opened last August, hundreds of women have received STI tests, cervical screenings and routine exams. But over the course of the year, Ms Amara recognised that a key service was missing – maternity care.

After interviewing more than a dozen of the clinic’s patients, she realised that there was a need specifically for maternity care.

“Women will be able to choose physically what positions they want to be in, the wording that they want clinicians to use, exactly how they want the birth to be.”

“There will be psychology support as well, in case they do experience flashbacks during labour,” she added.

Ms Pavan announced the launch of the maternity clinic yesterday at a maternity conference in London, but the doors won’t actually open until next month.

In the meantime, however, women can start making appointments via email or through the website.

“There isn’t anything like this, and I think that really speaks volumes. I don’t know why – there should have been. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t be doing this now, because this has been a problem for a very long time.”

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