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Respect and dignity in childbirth is a human right. Tragically, women around the world all too often endure violations of these rights, including verbal and physical abuse, non-consensual or non-confidential care, discrimination, abandonment, denial of care or detention in facilities.
India is no exception.
While systematic research is urgently required to document the rates and nature of disrespect and abuse in childbirth in India, anecdotal accounts abound and several qualitative studies have documented horrible abuse at health centers. Fear of poor quality care also keeps many women from seeking medical help. A study of slum-dwelling women in Delhi found that over 50% chose to give birth at home, citing fear of facilities as their primary reason.
The White Ribbon Alliance recently released a statement on the issue, endorsed by over 80 civil society and health organizations, which identified seven universal rights of childbearing women, and grounded them in international, multinational and national standards.
In India, there are currently no programs or policies in place to ensure dignity, privacy and respect in childbirth, and discussion of these issues is largely absent from the country’smaternity care guidelines.
It’s time for the Government of India to make this human rights issue a focus. It’s time for the Government of India to ratify the White Ribbon Alliance’s charter of universal rights of childbearing women.
This vital first action will set in motion research, monitoring, standards-development and training to make respectful maternity care a reality for all women in India.
For more information go to: http://whiteribbonalliance.org