Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison – Founder of the Desert Flower Australia Centre
Dr Fariba Behnia-Willison from FBW Gynaecology Plus, Adelaide is a fully accredited Gynaecologist, an advocate of women’s health and specialises in female pelvic medicine, reconstructive surgery, and single incision/advanced laparoscopy. Dr Behnia-Willison provides a women-centred approach to care, alongside a team of dedicated and skilled medical professionals.
Dr Behnia-Willison is also the founder of Desert Flower Australia, which supports victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her innate passion is not only treating women but also working towards a quality of life and empowerment for her female patients.
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to intentional alteration or removal of parts of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights. The procedure is performed on children causing a physical and psychological impact. It is often performed without adequate anaesthesia in unsterile and unsafe environments.
Sadly, there are millions of girls and women worldwide been – and continue to be affected by the practice of FGM. Several countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are at an increased risk of this practice. Australian women are also not immune as immigration can bring the practice into our country as well other countries such as the UK and the USA.
Female Genital Mutilation in Australia
There are more than 80,000 girls and women in Australia who are negatively affected by FGM. Every 17 seconds, a child is mutilated in the world in this way. The long-term effects of FGM are felt amongst many Australian girls and women who are living with the repercussions and trauma they received from the practice back home.
FGM reversal surgery overseas can cost women more than $20,000. This has created a need for a Desert Flower Centre in Australia. The announcement of the Desert Flower Australia centre signals hope and restores resilience for these women and girls. It also creates an opportunity to place South Australia on the map as a global leader in the No FGM movement.
The complications from FGM can be serious and life-threatening. Many victims are suffering from recurrent urinary tract infection, pelvic pain, dyspareunia, obstetric trauma and psychological distress.
The World Health Organization has classified FGM into four main types:
Type 1: Commonly called clitoridectomy. Total or partial removal of clitoris. Type 2: Commonly called excision. Total or partial removal of clitoris as well as labia minora, and possibly the labia majora. Type 3: Commonly called infibulation. Narrowing of vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. Type 4: Any other harmful procedure performed on the female genitalia.
To establish Desert Flower Australia, Dr Behnia-Willison has partnered with her colleague, Dr Tran Nguyen. This clinic specialises in the reversal of FGM related to gynaecological issues and sexual dysfunction. Dr Behnia-Willison and Dr Nguyen, in collaboration with her multidisciplinary team, will utilise their knowledge and specialised surgical skills to help women affected by FGM.
At her practice, FBW Gynaecology Plus, Dr Willison is known for her compassionate understanding and her approachable manner during all her patient consultations. This helps to open up the conversation on challenging health topics for women, and in doing so encourages her patients to feel comfortable discussing their health concerns. Dr Willison is fluent in German, Persian (Farsi) and Dari and is an active member of numerous charity and community groups.