Cynthia Lourenço Tach, Brigit Toebes, Juliana Marteli Fais Feriato

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Objective: The present article is aimed to analyse the phenomenon of obstetric violence as a type of violation of women’s human rights. A great incidence of physical, sexual and psychological offenses against women during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium committed by healthcare workers has been documented worldwide. Labelled as ‘obstetric violence’, this offence has been understood as a specific type of human rights violation that hampers women's sexual and reproductive rights and is committed in both public and private healthcare facilities, as well as from poor health system conditions. Nevertheless, obstetric violence is still a poorly understood phenomenon. This article will analyse how obstetric violence has been defined, measured and understood by specialists, by focusing on its concept, formats, and consequences for victims, as well as on the contributing factors that influence its occurrence. Methodology: The applied methodology was the qualitative method through documentary studies, in which primary sources and English, Spanish and Portuguese-language research publications from different fields of study were used, including public health, public international law, and human rights. Results: The paper concludes by suggesting how the international human rights framework can be used to better address obstetric violence. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women are key treaties that establish for States Parties the obligation to pursue, by all appropriate means and without delay, a policy of eliminating discrimination and gender-based violence against women, including in the field of health. Contribution: The article has as contribution the exposure a little-known subject about obstetric violence as a type of violation of women's human rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-206
Number of pages20
JournalRevista Jurídica
Issue number58
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Abuse and mistreatment in healthcare facilities
  • Obstetric violence
  • The medicalization of the natural process of childbirth
  • Women’s human rights violation

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