‘Safe’, yet violent? Women’s experiences with obstetric violence during hospital births in rural Northeast India

Chattopadhyay, Sreeparna and Mishra, Arima and Jacob, Suraj (2017) ‘Safe’, yet violent? Women’s experiences with obstetric violence during hospital births in rural Northeast India. Culture, Health & Sexuality An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care. ISSN 1369-1058

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The majority of maternal health interventions in India focus on increasing institutional deliveries to reduce maternal mortality, typically by incentivising village health workers to register births and making conditional cash transfers to mothers for hospital births. Based on over 15 months of ethnographically informed fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2017 in rural Assam, the Indian state with the highest recorded rate of maternal deaths, we find that while there has been an expansion in institutional deliveries, the experience of childbirth in government facilities is characterised by obstetric violence. Poor and indigenous women who disproportionately use state facilities report both tangible and symbolic violence including iatrogenic procedures such as episiotomies, in some instances done without anaesthesia, improper pelvic examinations, beating and verbal abuse during labour, with sometimes the shouting directed at accompanying relatives. While the expansion of institutional deliveries and access to emergency obstetric care is likely to reduce maternal mortality, in the absence of humane care during labour, institutional deliveries will continue to be characterised by the paradox of “safe” births (defined as simply reducing maternal deaths) and the deployment of violent practices during labour, underscoring the unequal and complex relationship between the bodies of the poor and reproductive governance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gender; obstetric violence; hospital birth; India
Subjects: Technology > Medicine & health
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Depositing User: Mr. Krishnamoorti Chavan
Date Deposited: 24 May 2018 09:25
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2018 02:47
Related URLs:
URI: http://publications.azimpremjifoundation.org/id/eprint/205
Publisher URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13691...

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