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Hidden Scars was founded by Bethel Tadesse in February of 2015. This story could start much earlier in Bethel's life but let's start with University! Bethel had wanted to develop her passion for women's rights since she was a teenager. University seemed to be the perfect place to find something to do. When the first term started in September 2014, Bethel started looking for projects to get involved in. During that time, she came across Zimwomen Association in Northampton, UK. Rutendo and Anne of Zimwomen took Bethel in like their own. They took her to meetings, encouraged her to speak out and build her confidence. Bethel spent most of her university days at Zimwomen going to events, meetings, and much more.

In January of 2015, Bethel took Rutendo's advise of working on her passion. Ru said that many people wait to finish university to start working on their passion projects, however, university is the perfect time to start something. Bethel took this on and thought carefully about what she could do. She had always been interested in FGM and knew that at the time, Northampton was in the top 10 'high risk' areas for FGM. There weren't many services working on this so she decided that, that would be her focus. Bethel started asking friends and family for name ideas, created a logo, and started letting people know of the new project. Her mother texted her 'Hidden Scars or Unhealed Wound'. She loved the name Hidden Scars and took that on as the name of the project. Hidden Scars launched in February of that year and held its first event in July of 2015.

Bethel started focusing on training frontline professionals on the basic FGM information they will need. This led her to do training sessions at local Northampton hospitals, police stations, and lecturing at the university for policing, social work, nursing, and midwifery students. She spent most of her time at the university focused on Hidden Scars, Zimwomen, and for one year, working as the Women's Officer at the University's student union.

Hidden Scars then grew to other cities. Bethel ended up lecturing at other universities, events, and at local frontline services including places such as foster care support groups. This was a very exciting time for the project.

In 2017, there were articles talking about period poverty. This led to Bethel started Hidden Scars Code Red project. The aim of Code Red was to collect and distribute as many sanitary products as possible. These were distributed to schools and people in need in the city of Leeds. Hidden Scars received donations from different companies including Organi Cup. Bethel was able to donate some products to schools and other organisations that had more reach and easier access to people working to end Period Poverty.

Hidden Scars continued to grow and in the years to come, we were invited to speak at a side event at UN Geneva, made a video with sex and relationships YouTuber, Hannah Witton and joined gal-dem for their Guardian magazine takeover. All of these moments were incredible ways to raise awareness of the issues relating to female genital mutilation.

Now, Hidden Scars has a new vision with may more exciting things to come. Click here to learn more about what we do. We hope you can join us on our journey.





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