Fistula Pilgrims

Posted: 13 May 2004

The film Fistula Pilgrims, was written, produced and directed by Nancy Durrell McKenna for Safehands in partnership with the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (FIGO).

It tells the story of Telanish, a young girl in Ethiopia who was married at 10, pregnant at 11 and gave birth to a stillborn child at 12. As a result of a long and obstructed labour, she has a fistula and is left incontinent, and has been outcast from her community.

Obstetric fistula occurs when a woman has a prolonged, obstructed labour and cannot get medical help. The constant pressure of the baby's head in the birth canal causes a hole to form between the woman's bladder and vagina and/or rectum. In nearly every case, the baby dies. The mother is left with constant leaking of urine and/or faeces.

The social consequences of fistula are disastrous for the sufferer. Women are often rejected by their husbands, shunned by their communities and blamed for their condition.

There are approximately two million women who suffer from obstetric fistula around the world with more added every day. With training, the complications that cause fistula can be avoided and spare young women like Telanish a lifetime of misery.

To view the film on-line, visit: