AN EVENT to raise awareness on female genital mutilation (FGM) and the help available for survivors is being held today, with one victim saying the help she received has made her 'a new person;'.

Women from all over the county are invited to the event in East Oxford,, organised by charity Oxford Against Cutting and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, marking an international day of zero tolerance against the practice.

It will also make sure women are aware of The Rose Clinic, a specialist unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital which has treated more than 150 survivors since it opened in 2015.

Last year a Healthwatch Oxfordshire report found that 42 per cent of GPs did not know of the clinic’s existence.

Dr Brenda Kelly, the consultant obstetrician who runs the unit, said: “The aim of the event is to say we are in Oxford, please refer, and let women know they can self-refer as well.”

FGM is the ritualistic cutting of parts of the female genitalia and is practised in parts of the Middle East and Africa. In the UK it is considered a form of child abuse.

A report from City University London and human rights group Equality Now published in 2015 suggested 545 women in Oxford, or seven in 1,000, had undergone the practice.

A dedicated team of female health professionals, including chronic pain specialists, psychotherapists and interpreters work at The Rose Clinic unit to aid survivors’ physical and mental health.

Dr Kelly said: “I have worked with a woman who had chronic bladder pain as a result of a severe form of FGM. Another had severe pain when she had her period and great difficulty in her intimate relationship.

“Mental health problems range from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety to severe forms of PTSD.

“It takes most women a long time to talk about it.”

A 40-year-old woman, who was traumatised after being cut in Somalia aged just five years old, said the clinic had made her ‘a new person’.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “In the first place it affects you because you’re not getting an anaesthetic. You’re a child, awake and have no idea what’s going on. It’s so painful.

“Now I’m married and I’m not confident. I have a lot of urine problems and pain, and lots of nightmares.

“The service here I have really appreciated. They’re helping to fix everything psychologically and it’s all available on the NHS. I fel like I’m having a new life.”

Today’s event will run from 11am at East Oxford Community Centre.

For referrals to The Rose Clinic email