Pregnancy and childbirth are viewed as one of the most significant and special events in the lives of not only women but also the couples and the families involved. The ground reality has been brought to light by a new WHO-supported study, which talks about the prevalence of mistreatment of women during childbirth and the evidence.
Mistreatment during childbirth is one of the forms of violence against women, which unfortunately, is noticed worldwide. In this case, it would be in the form of physical, verbal, or any other sort of abuse of a woman from pregnancy till after childbirth. This also includes disrespect and/or neglect during medical procedures and care pertaining to childbirth.
The new research found the younger and less educated women were at a higher risk of mistreatment. It also noted that 42% experienced physical or verbal abuse, stigma or discrimination. 14% of women experienced physical violence.
With respect to mistreatment during medical procedures, 59% of vaginal examinations were conducted without consent. This was also the case with 13% caesarean births and 75% episiotomies (surgical cuts made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth).
The new study was published in The Lancet online and has received funding from the United States Agency for International Development and the UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO. It collected data from Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, and Myanmar.
The statistical evidence from this research highlights the need for interventions in healthcare at multiple levels. It can also be used to inform better policies and programmes.