voices were raised in Europe to denounce them

Tanja Ivanova / Getty Images ut pomegranate on a white background. Menstruation concept. Vagina symbol. Gynecology, female intimate health

Tanja Ivanova / Getty Images

Spain must compensate a woman identified by the UN as a victim of obstetrical violence.

SEXIST VIOLENCE – It took 10 years for the Spaniard Nahia Alkorta to be recognized as a victim of obstetric violence by the UN, while justice in her country denied her this status. When one of her children was born in 2012, doctors performed a cesarean section on her without asking her opinion, while her arms were tied and her husband was forbidden to enter the room. According to him, he was given oxytocin to induce labor when he had contractions. Again without explanation. Then he suffered from post-traumatic syndrome.

Today, she stands as one of the voices that resonates in Europe when it comes to recognizing the violence that occurs during pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth. Since this decision, “Over 100 women have contacted me saying they have experienced the same thing” he revealed in an interview with AFP. Now 36 years old and a mother of three children, she lives in the locality of Zizurkil, in the Spanish Basque Country. This violence, “We don’t talk about it because of the pain it causes, because of the shame and because there is this idea like that and that’s it”he continued.

In its report, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines obstetric violence as “a particular type of violence against women during childbirth in hospitals, which has been shown to be widespread, systemic in nature and rooted in health systems. » The Committee considered that Spain should pay Nahia Alkorta “appropriate damages”without counting them, because of the physical and psychological damage he suffered.

Insults, humiliation, neglect…

There is no global data on this problem in Europe. But rights groups say women are often denied informed consent. They are subjected to rude, humiliating behavior by medical staff and, in some cases, unsafe practices.

In Serbia, a recent petition collected 70,000 signatures in five days calling for the state to pay the costs sometimes required for the presence of a person accompanying a woman in the delivery room. He criticized in particular insults, humiliation, shouting, as well as negligence and medical errors on the part of the staff, confirming that “Many mothers in Serbia prefer to forget the day they gave birth. »

In Bulgaria, Nina Gelkova, of the organization Rofilnitza, criticized that “The state does not recognize the existence of such a problem. (…) We are approached by many mothers who suffered from traumatic childbirth, but almost no one complains. » Some countries such as Spain and Italy have established observatories on obstetrical violence, but legal proceedings are rare.

Changing habits?

However, some doctors consider that practices are changing, such as Daniel Morillas, vice-president of the Spanish Federation of Midwifery Associations (FAME). During her 16 years of experience, she claims to have observed more awareness of mother’s rights and her role. “asset” during childbirth, while recognizing that there is still more to do.

“The first thing to do to fight against obstetrical violence is to recognize its existence”, he told AFP. Believing this, “Many doctors and midwives recognize that they exist and are trying to change things”.

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