Déjà vu, déjà entendu [3]

Irish women sawn open during childbirth seek justice (Norma Costello, Al Jazeera, 26 February 2016)

Today, Irish survivors of the procedure are faced with a no-blame payment scheme that fails to meet the recommendations of the UNHRC, but which most feel they must now accept because of their old age and ailing health.

The Irish government announced its Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme in November 2014. It offered quick, limited payments, from €50,000 (around $55,000) to €150,000 (around $165,000) and forced the participating women to sign an ex gratia waiver which barred them from seeking to “prosecute and punish” the hospitals, doctors and religious orders responsible for the practice.

The scheme has been widely condemned by activists, lawyers and the women themselves, who claim it prevents them from seeking justice and offers inadequate compensation.

Critics say that the scheme failed to hear oral testimonies from those women who were unable to locate medical documents, often 50 years after the event, and that, subsequently, many of these women received the minimum payout despite suffering decades of pain and disability.

Noelle Higgins, who is a senior law lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, says the scheme is an attempt by the state to erase its part in this horrific chapter of Irish history.

A no-blame payment scheme? Erasing history? I swear I heard the exact same line last December too.


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