Obstetric Violence: The 'invisible' Mistreatment In Colombia's Delivery Rooms

Obstetric Violence: The 'invisible' Mistreatment In Colombia's Delivery Rooms
Photo: Jonas Kakaroto/Pexels


Sofia Dolabela

America and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Obstetric violence is configured as a type of mistreatment against women during pregnancy or childbirth, which manifests itself in practices or omissions in the hospital service, which is often not taken into consideration in debates about gender violence. As a consequence, obstetric violence brings about the loss of autonomy and individual capacity for women to decide freely about their bodies and sexuality.

Many times, health personnel are not sufficiently trained to perform a delivery in a dignified manner, and sometimes pregnant women are unaware of their rights and even the existence of this type of violence, so they don't recognize the aggressions and don't know what measures to take regarding them. In Colombia, there is no law that protects mothers in cases of obstetric violence, only entities that receive complaints from victims and seek to help them protect their rights as citizens.  

The news shows the account of several Colombian women who have suffered obstetric violence at moral, verbal, and even physical levels, including being subjected to a sterilization process without their consent. The impact of suffering such violence at a time of emotional vulnerability has long-term adverse effects, usually psychological in nature. According to Marcela Lozano, psychologist, prenatal educator, and doula, a fundamental part of childbirth is that pregnant women feel supported by reliable people and are in a calm, comfortable, and critical-free environment where they feel respected.

Alejandra Ordóñez, prenatal psychologist and member of the National Movement for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Colombia, adds that childbirth is everyone's responsibility, since it is a social act, and should be dignified, respected, and guaranteed by the competent authorities and health centers under the perspective of human rights.

Sources and further reading:

Caballero, N; Gómez, S; Peralta, L. (2022, March 21). Obstetric violence: the 'invisible' mistreatment in Colombia's delivery rooms. El País. Retrieved March, 21,  2022, from https://www.conectas.org/noticias/pagamos-um-preco-muito-alto-por-ser-familiar-de-preso-a-realidade-das-revistas-intimas-nas-prisoes