International human rights and the mistreatment of women during childbirth

Rajat Khosla, Christina Zampas, Joshua P. Vogel, Meghan A. Bohren, Mindy Roseman, Joanna N. Erdman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

International human rights bodies have played a critical role in codifying, setting standards, and monitoring human rights violations in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights. In recent years, these institutions have developed and applied human rights standards in the more particular context of maternal mortality and morbidity, and have increasingly recognized a critical human rights issue in the provision and experience of care during and after pregnancy, including during childbirth. However, the international human rights standards on mistreatment during facility-based childbirth remain, in an early stage of development, focused largely on a discrete subset of experiences, such as forced sterilization and lack of access to emergency obstetric care. As a consequence, the range of mistreatment that women may experience has not been adequately addressed or analyzed under international human rights law. Identifying human rights norms and standards related to the full range of documented mistreatment is thus a first step towards addressing violations of human rights during facility-based childbirth, ensuring respectful and humane treatment, and developing a program of work to improve the overall quality of maternal care. This article reviews international human rights standards related to the mistreatment of women during childbirth in facility settings under regional and international human rights law and lays out an agenda for further research and action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages13
JournalHealth and Human Rights
Volume18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this