Human Rights Law Network


Obstetric Violence Causing Maternal Mortality

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“The doctor gets angry on us, even if we get delayed in removing our clothes during check up. We are abused by doctors and nurses. We are abused if we cry in pain and so we just suppress our pain and lie silently.” Savitri, a slum resident in Delhi, narrates her experience of using a government health facility.

Obstetric care refers to the most basic maternal care. It concerns itself with the care of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth and the post partum period. This also includes providing information to the pregnant woman on all of the above aspects. Indian Public Health Standards guides Emergency Obstetric care as an ‘essential service’ at every government health centre. Most of the HRLN’s fact findings have highlighted the condition of obstetric care in government health facilities to be of very poor quality or completely missing, becoming the major cause of Maternal Mortality.

Such violence and humiliation discourages women like Savitri to access these services and leaves them with no scope for asking for their rights. Consequence they either give birth at homes or at private facilities, where they incur heavy debts. This discriminatory treatment is brazenly meted on them because these women belong to an economically weaker section.  As the TOI says in it’s report “Obstetric violence, the abuse of pregnant women by health workers, is shockingly common in the Indian medical system though it is rarely talked about”. Even after these consequences and violations, reproductive rights are not considered as a human rights issue in India.

HRLN, which promotes a rights-based approach to reproductive health care throughout India, has filed 150 cases in 14 states regarding violation of reproductive rights. Its legal intervention to ensure women’s reproductive rights have pushed for better implementation and monitoring of schemes, held authorities accountable; even in certain cases have held private hospitals accountable, victims have been provided with compensation. HRLN is reaching the farthest and forgotten places of the country to realize reproductive rights of its citizens. These interventions are giving a voice to such violations in the court while pushing the government to give reproductive rights the consideration of human rights in its implementation. 

Click here to read more at TOI

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Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.

HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.