High number of women are slapped or mocked while GIVING BIRTH

One in three women are slapped, mocked or abused while GIVING BIRTH in some African and Asian countries as report suggests such mistreatment is common worldwide

  • Scientists studied treatment of women in Nigeria, Myanmar, Ghana and Guinea
  • They found one in three were either mocked or physically abused during birth 
  • 13 per cent had cesarean sections performed without giving consent first 
  • Three quarters had surgical cuts made to their vaginas without giving consent 

A third of women in four African and Asian countries were slapped, mocked or abused while giving birth, a report has claimed.  

The study, which looked at health centres in Nigeria, Myanmar, Ghana and Guinea, also found large numbers of women experienced cesarean sections and surgical cuts to the vagina which were carried out without their consent.

While the report, published Wednesday in The Lancet, focused only on those countries, researchers believe such treatment could be common worldwide.  

One in three women in Nigeria, Myanmar, Ghana and Guinea were slapped, mocked or otherwise abused while giving birth, a new study has found (file image)

‘Mistreatment during childbirth can amount to a violation of human rights, and could be a disincentive from seeking facility-based maternity care,’ the authors wrote.

The new study led by the World Health Organization followed more than 2,000 women during labor and interviewed more than 2,600 women after childbirth.

Some 42 per cent reported physical or verbal abuse or discrimination during childbirth. 

Some women were punched, shouted at, scolded or forcibly held down. 

Younger, less-educated women are at risk of such mistreatment which also includes neglect by health workers or the use of force during procedures, the study said.

Most of the abuse occurred in the 15 minutes before and during childbirth. 

The study cited research that found that ‘midwives and doctors described women as “uncooperative” during this period and some justified using physical and verbal abuse as “punishment”.’

Health officials say the mistreatment of women during childbirth appears to be global, including in developed countries. 

But the practices are rarely documented and women often fear reporting such violations. 

The same study found that 13 per cent of women were given cesarean sections without their consent, while 75 per cent had surgical cuts to their vagina without consent (file) 

Previous reports have documented physical abuse of women in eastern Europe, particularly those of Roma descent, including instances where women are forcibly separated from their newborns for several days.

Abusive practices during maternal care have also been widely reported across Latin America, where Venezuela became the first country to legislate against specific unethical practices by adopting a law to ban so-called ‘obstetric violence’ in 2007.

Among the 2,016 women observed in the new study, 13 per cent of the cesarean sections and 75 per cent of the surgical cuts to the vagina were performed without consent. 

In 59 per cent of cases, vaginal examinations were performed without consent.

‘Younger, unmarried women were more likely to have non-consented vaginal examinations,’ the study said.

Of the 2,672 women interviewed after childbirth, 57 per cent said they had not been offered any relief for pain.

Some women were then detained at health centers for being unable to pay the bill.

The study suggested allowing women to have a companion of their choice present during childbirth, improving the informed consent process and redesigning maternity wards to improve privacy.

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