It was almost a year ago that I marched on Washington for the Women’s March. What a year it has been since that powerful and transformative day.
Since then the #MeToo Campaign began – with women from around the world shining a light on harassment, sexual assault, discrimination and misogyny that occurs everywhere, even in places they should feel safe, respected and loved – work, home, church, hospital and more.
Powerful men from all types of places are being outed for inappropriate, illegal, and immoral behavior as women feel their power and strength to come together and stand up for their rights, finally feeling safe(r) to do so. The wave of strength is permeating and growing and it’s a wave that strengthens my mission even more.
When women aren’t respected and treated fairly in their everyday lives, it’s easy to see how this can be translated into their health care particularly when they are giving birth. Everyday women are being told they “must” have cervical exams, “must” have repeat cesareans, they are being subjected to procedures and interventions without informed decision making (or any consent).
“Human rights are fundamental entitlements due to all people, recognized by societies and governments and enshrined in international declarations and conventions”. The Respectful Maternity Care Charter affirms the human rights of the childbearing women as basic, inalienable human rights and addressed the issue of disrespect and abuse among women seeking maternity care and provide a platform for improvement – The Respectful Maternity Care Charter states:
- Every woman has the right to be free from harm and ill treatment – No one can abuse you
- Every woman has the right to information, informed consent and refusal, and respect for choices and preferences, including the right to companionship of choice wherever possible.
- No one can force you or do thing to you without your knowledge or consent
- Every woman has the right to privacy and confidentiality – No one can expose you or your personal information.
- Every woman has the right to be treated with dignity and respect -No one can humiliate you or verbally abuse you
- Every woman has the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, and equitable care – no one can discriminate because of something they don’t like about you
- Every woman has the right to liberty, autonomy, self-determination, and freedom from coercion
When these rights are violated, we are often told to sit down, be quiet, get over it, or that we are being selfish. But these are our HUMAN RIGHTS and when they are violated we should not be violated again by being told that they don’t matter. Improving Birth has an incredible collection of resources for women who have been violated, including a guide to filing a grievance. Feel free to read and download this guide here.
To honor the #MeToo Campaign, Women’s Right and Childbirth Rights I invite you to share your story #MeTooBirth- as women come together to demand an end to sexual assault, we must demand an end to #BirthAssault too.
Tweet us @OrgasmicBirth #MeTooBirth your story – were you witness to, or given disrespectful, violent, or coercive care in birth? Let’s share our voices to end the mistreatment of women during what should be the most powerful, enjoyable ecstatic day of their lives!
As Oprah said at her powerful acceptance speech at the Golden Globe award “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”
In childbirth the time is up for the patriarchal model too, we must listen to women, honor the birth giver’s rights and voice and treat every MotherBaby with respect, dignity and love.
As a doula, we bear witness to violations in birth often – it’s important for us to know the rights of the women we support, and to learn ways to support ourselves as we see these injustices occur, as they too can be traumatic and unsettling. Together we must raise our voices and share the 5 Approaches to Respectful Maternity Care. and implement the tools in A Guide for Advocating for Respectful Maternity Care in your community as we each make a difference.
Then, join other moms and childbirth advocates for the March for Mom’s in DC this May! – http://www.marchformoms.org/
I would like to invite you to Join me and Ibu Robin Lim in Bali for our Birth or Postpartum Doula Retreats “Eat Pray Doula” this Spring. Ibu Robin and I will discuss our human rights, ways to protect and nurture ourselves and our clients, and how by bringing respectful loving care to our mothers will permeate into our culture – respect, love and healing.
When a Mother is empowered in birth, and comes out of that experience with strength and love, she will have the strength to empower her own children to respect the world, each other, and themselves. Learn more.