Following a difficult labour, Joan O’Connor gave birth to her first child, a girl, in April 1965. Unbeknown to her at the time, she was one of a relatively small number of women subjected to a high-risk procedure to open the pelvis during childbirth.
Yesterday Ms O’Connor was part of a large audience at the screening of Mothers against the Odds, a new documentary that focuses on the plight of Irish women forced to endure symphysiotomies during the mid to late 20th century.
The film compares the treatment of these women with that of women in Kenyan hospitals today and argues that Kenyan society forces women to submit to the prevailing demands of traditional culture, religion and the perceived superiority of their husbands. “We’ve always felt that you must link the history of the two sides of the world,” film-maker Anne Daly said.