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Violence Against Pregnant Women In India Contributes To High Maternal Mortality, The Atlantic Reports

The Atlantic examines the issue of violence against pregnant women in India. “In the aftermath of the high-profile gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student, discussions have raged in India about the regularity of violence against women,” the magazine writes, adding, “As has been widely noted, the causes of the violence run deep. But they also are broad.” The magazine continues, “India’s other sexual violence is the failure to care for pregnant women, medically and socially,” noting, “The ingrained iniquities and widespread disregard for women’s needs during pregnancy and childbirth contribute to India’s shockingly high maternal death rates.”

“Women die around delivery mostly due to excessive bleeding, obstructed labor, infection, and issues around high blood pressure, including eclampsia,” but “these are the medical causes,” according to the Atlantic, which adds, “Women die in their homes under the watch of poorly trained midwives and village doctors. Women die in rickshaws when families make last minute runs to the health center. And many of these women die without ever having any say in decisions about their health.” The magazine writes, “Abuse of laboring women, while not well-tallied, is a global issue,” noting “[a] 2002 article in the Lancet called such abuse ‘a means of controlling patients’ and a USAID survey cited violence at the hands of health providers as an ‘important barrier’ to women wanting to birth in clinics” (Gaestel/Shelley, 2/12).