Report reveals widespread abuse of women during childbirth

JOHANNESBURG — A new report said more than one-third of women in four low-income countries in Africa and Asia were slapped, mocked, forcibly treated, or otherwise abused during childbirth in health centers, and suggests that such
mistreatment occurs worldwide.

The study published Wednesday in The Lancet medical journal said women in Nigeria, Myanmar, Ghana, and Guinea also experienced high rates of caesarean sections and surgical cuts to the vagina, or episiotomies, without their consent — and often without a painkiller.

The new study led by the World Health Organization followed more than 2,000 women during labor and interviewed more than 2,600 women after childbirth.


Some 42 percent reported physical or verbal abuse or discrimination during childbirth. Some women were punched, shouted at, scolded, or forcibly held down. Younger, less-educated women are at risk of such mistreatment, which also includes neglect by health workers or the use of force during procedures, the study said.

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