SOS, or Survivors of Symphysiotomy, is an Irish membership group consisting of survivors of the symphysiotomy surgery and families of those who have undergone the procedure. The unfunded organisation campaigns for justice to those who have suffered from the surgical procedure which they needlessly endured. Once hygiene, clinical practices, and the improvement of the caesarean section technique improved in the 1900s, the symphysiotomy procedure was largely abandoned in the developed world, with Ireland being the most famous exception. It has been found that the Catholic Church insisted on the procedure to ensure childbearing without limitation during a time when artificial contraceptives were banned, and non-Catholic doctors recommended sterilisation after three caesarean sections. Matilda and Bernadette Behan established survivors of Symphysiotomy in 2002. From 2008 to 2014, many appeals to the Irish Ministers of Health were made, as were some reports into the consequences of symphysiotomy and malpractice, but ultimately, SOS was forced to make a complaint to the United Nations Committee Against Torture due to Ireland’s failure to properly investigate the practice. Four months after the complaint, the Irish government was instructed to investigate the issue by the UN Committee on Human Rights. In 2016, the Irish government awarded payments amounting to €34 million to those aggrieved, but spokesperson Marie O’Connor claims that it’s yet another official whitewash report of the issue.
Special thanks to Joanna Cunningham for her support.
There is no ticket or booking needed for this talk.
This talk is part of our larger exhibition programme, Resilience for Kilkenny Arts Office Emerging Curator Development Programme. Full details can be found here