In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children“? – A Human Rights-Based Approach To Violence Against Women During Childbirth

Birthing people around the globe often experience violence during facility-based childbirth. Their testimonies speak of numerous forms of mistreatment: humiliations, negligence, threats and interventions without their informed consent such as episiotomies and caesarean sections. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the conditions of care, as facilities were understaffed and birth companions were temporarily not permitted in the birthing room.
While health-care providers and activists have advocated against obstetric violence by releasing policies, the law still remains to be fully deployed in addressing this systemic form of violence against women.
Taking the CEDAW and the ECHR, this paper seeks to operationalize human rights standards to address obstetric violence and to analyse the transformative potential of a human rights-based approach. A painful birth is no biblical curse but often the result of discriminatory structures permitting violence in violation of human rights law.