What is obstetric rape?
India Marama is a Melbourne birth worker whom I've served alongside at birth. This is her answer: .
"Rape is defined by something entering your body without your consent, yes? In the case of obstetric rape, we’re talking primarily about medical professionals using their hands and instruments inside a woman’s vagina during the process of labour and birth, without her consent.
It happens so commonly and so casually, it beggars belief. A woman’s body, particularly her vagina, during labour and birth, is viewed and treated much like an oven through which a bun must be extracted, the door being opened and closed at will, most often without discussion, often without acknowledgement, and usually without express consent.
I’ve had more discussion, acknowledgement and permission sought at the dentist than I’ve witnessed and heard told occur in the labour and birthing rooms.
The obstetric, and indeed the medical culture overall, has a strong paternalistic attitude - particularly towards women. Particularly during labour and birth. Women are infantilised, treated like they’re disobedient children if they question anything. And if they dare to say no, they’re pulled the “dead baby” card. You know the one? If you don’t do this, your baby will die. Do you want your baby to die? That one. So often pulled out to coerce women, it’s breathtaking.
I’m a birth worker. I call many midwives friends. The overwhelming majority of my friends and people in my life, are mothers. And I’m active in political birth communities and organisations. These stories are very real. .
In fact, improving outcomes in birth in Australia was what drove me to health promotion. To become a person of influence that will one day effect policy to change these outcomes. .
Birth trauma hurts women, hurts their families, impacts their mothering, damages communities. The ripple effect of birth trauma is significant." (Used with permission)
If you are suffering repercussions from a traumatic birth experience - be it in hospital, birth centre, home or elsewhere - please reach out. Resources are available and change is coming. .