HUNDREDS of women are being maimed and traumatised. Thanks to a medical procedure to correct a relatively common problem, women are being crippled. They are being left so lame they must use walking sticks or wheelchairs. They are being forced, due to devastating side effects, to live with chronic pain, lacerations, nerve damage, have organs removed.

This is a national - and international - disgrace. So where is the outrage?

Perhaps the silence is due to the catalyst for the problem: first, incontinence and then the fix, transvaginal mesh. Hard things to discuss.

Transvaginal mesh has been used in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence, common in women who have given birth or middle aged women, since the early 2000s as an alternative to traditional procedures using native tissue repair: it is quicker, cheaper and requires less expertise from the surgeon. So, an older procedure might take four hours and require a few night’s hospital stay whereas a a mesh procedure takes 20 minutes as a day procedure. The perfect fix for busy mums.

The result is what has been described as the biggest medical scandal since thalidomide.

Last year I interviewed mesh survivor, which is how the women style themselves, Marian Kenny. Like so many other women in her situation, she described not being listened to by medical professionals (she herself is a nurse) when she told them of the crippling pain she was suffering. She has had to give up work and is registered disabled. “I feel as though I’m living in a waking nightmare,” she told me.

Thousands of women have undergone this procedure in Scotland, thousands in England and thousands more worldwide. In 2014 the Scottish Government asked health boards to suspend mesh procedures pending the results of an inquiry. That inquiry reported in March this year amid claims of a whitewash made by three members of the review group, who resigned.

In England, at the end of last month, the Mesh Oversight Group Report, was published. Affected women were furious that the report failed to call for a ban on the procedure. Campaigners also want a register of how many meshes have been implanted, how many removed and mandatory reporting of problems.

NHS England says the complication rate is around one to three per cent with the Scottish Government stating one to six per cent. However, figures obtained this week by the Guardian newspaper suggest that in the past 10 years around seven percent fitted with the most common type of mesh support later required surgery to have it extracted due to complications.

Class action suits are underway against mesh manufacturers in Australia and in the US, where more than $1.5 billion has been paid out in compensation.

The issue has been brought to light by brave women who set up campaign groups - in Scotland, Scottish Mesh Survivors was set up by Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy. Brave for talking about the issue publicly and brave for going up against the medical establishment and medical manufacturers.

Holmes and McIlroy, incidentally, are two of the three to walk away from the Scottish Government’s mesh inquiry.

Many of the affected women felt they were alone. Doctors denied that the mesh could be causing their symptoms. They were left to feel they were going mad. They, like Marian, felt dismissed. They felt like they were expected to simply carry on, to bear the burden of physical pain and associated psychological suffering.

There’s part of the problem. How can such severe symptoms, reported by thousands of women in several countries have failed to have attracted widespread notice and action for so long?

Because women are hobbled by the topic. A commonly acknowledged side effect of mesh surgery is loss of sexual function. You are asking women to talk publicly and frankly about trauma and their vaginas. To say they are crippled, in pain, unable to be intimate with their partners.

We know that under-reporting is common where subjects are vulnerable due to shame, embarrassment and fear and that surely is the case here too. Women are sexualised by popular culture but when their sexuality is damaged, popular culture doesn’t want to know.

Then when problems are reported, when women overcome the stigma, mesh patients speak of being dismissed. You can only guess at the outcry were men being castrated by a medical device. But you don’t have to guess for women: over a decade of obfuscation and silence.

Finally women are being heard but their demand - a ban on mesh procedures - is being ignored.

Even with a complication rate as low as six per cent, how can this situation possibly be acceptable? If the figures do not make a case then surely the human cost does.