A woman whose unborn baby was stillborn after she suffered a horrific physical assault is holding a special day-long event to bring together and support young women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal deaths.
Twenty-five-year-old Malorie Bantala, grew up in Peckham and has lived in Southwark for most of her life. At 21 she suffered a stillbirth after being violently assaulted while eight months pregnant.
The traumatic experience led her to set up OWNIT.org, a reproductive health organisation, and campaign for women’s reproductive rights.
On May 25, she is holding a specialist workshop with life coach Sai Jurji, called Surviving the New ‘Normal’, at Canada Water Library, for women under 30 who have lost a baby.
She hopes the session, which has eleven places, will give support and also help women meet others with similar experiences.
Malorie says: “For me the experience was lonely and isolating. The reality is most people at that age are concerned about superficial things and are not emotionally equipped to handle such a tragedy. I know I wasn’t alone, but I remembered how the experience made me feel. All I wanted was to meet other people my age who could relate to my experience but I couldn’t find a safe space.
“My aim is to help women learn how to manage their grief in a healthy way – also they will have a unique experience of meeting women of their age group whom they are able to relate to.
“I’ve purposely decided to keep the numbers small and intimate because I just want women to feel comfortable about opening up as it’s a sensitive subject.”
She told the News although she was offered NHS support after her ordeal, it didn’t work for her, and more can be done to help women dealing with child loss.
“At the time I was referred to victim support and received counselling provided by the NHS.
“Yet, at the time I didn’t feel that they could provide me with the adequate support that I needed.
“My circumstances were complex and support services are trained to deal with so much. I wouldn’t discredit the work that they do, however, it just wasn’t for me,” she said.
She is particularly focused on helping women learn more and take control of their reproductive health, saying information about this area isn’t always available.
Key to stopping more women going through what she did, she says, is raising awareness of reproductive coercion.
“Recently, there was a report published by British Medical Journal on reproductive coercion, a form of domestic abuse It describes a type of abuse in which someone else controls your reproductive choices, for instance deciding whether you can use contraception, choose to become pregnant, or continue with a pregnancy.
“This form of abuse is more common that we think. Young women and women from ethnic backgrounds are most vulnerable to this abuse.
“There’s a lack of research, awareness and understanding on reproductive coercion. If public services were open to incorporating this issue in their safeguarding training, this will prevent women slipping through the cracks and not receive the help that’s needed.”
Surviving the New ‘Normal’: Learn how to manage life after loss of a baby, takes place on Saturday, May 25, from 11am to 4.30pm, at 2nd floor,
Canada Water Library, 21 Surrey Quays, SE16 7AE. Tickets are £5.95-£11.25.
To register, visit: eventbrite.com/e/ownitorg-presents-surviving-the-new-normal-registration-58721002098