The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has helped advance the fight against gender-based violence by recognizing a form of violence experienced by many women, and yet has been invisible for many years. In January 2023, the court used the concept of “obstetric violence” for the first time in which case? britez arce vs argentinaDefining it as “a form of gender-based violence, perpetrated by those in charge of health care for pregnant persons accessing services during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.”
Christina Britez Arce was nine months pregnant when an ultrasound showed a dead fetus. She was admitted to the hospital to induce labor but died of cardiac arrest.
court found That Britze did not receive the necessary medical treatment considering the many known risk factors of her pregnancy, nor did she have the necessary information about treatment options. Instead, she was “subject to obstetric violence” that eventually led to her death.
Among other things, the court ordered Government of Argentina to prepare a campaign to disseminate information on human rights related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum and the conditions that constitute obstetric violence. This is the first time a judicial decision has recognized the State’s obligation to prevent obstetric violence in order to fulfill a number of human rights, including the right to life, health and humane treatment.
Human Rights Watch has previously organized research abuses experienced by women during childbirth, and World Health Organization Women during childbirth in hospitals are physically and verbally abused, sterilized, denied pain medication, and affected by life-threatening, avoidable complications due to neglect.
Other human rights experts have already recognized obstetric violence and its harms. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women… Underlined Abuse and violence against women during reproductive health and delivery care in hospitals threatens their right to life, health, bodily integrity, privacy, autonomy and freedom from discrimination. and, United Nations, Inter-American Commission, and African Commission human rights expert requested jointly Governments should address obstetric and institutional violence against women in health facilities and take all possible practical and legislative measures to prevent, restrict, punish and redress such acts.
Obstetric violence is anything but invisible to the pregnant people who experience it. International, regional and domestic legal and judicial systems to recognize obstetric violence as a violation of human rights and to enforce the obligation of governments to respect and protect the rights of pregnant people during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period I must comply with the decision of the Inter-American Court.