Women – Mothers – Bodies II: Systemic Aspects of Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Birth Care Provided in Healthcare Facilities in Slovakia is a second publication jointly released by Slovak NGOs Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability) and Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles) as a result of their long-term cooperation. The book is a sequel to Women – Mothers – Bodies: Women’s Human Rights in Obstetric Care in Healthcare Facilities in Slovakia that gave pilot insights into the violations of women’s human rights in Slovak birthing facilities from the perspective of women as rights holders.
The first publication of the Women – Mothers – Bodies series, based on internationally recognised human rights standards and medical guidelines, has so far been the only publication of its kind in Slovakia to elicit a due response and raise awareness of the issue of women’s human rights in childbirth. In addition to the media, women, non-governmental organisations, and international institutions, the publication also drew the attention of relevant healthcare personnel, in particular obstetricians and midwives. During more or less formal discussions (though largely ignored by the Slovak Ministry of Health), the stakeholders basically agreed on one thing: a qualitative shift in the provision of birth care in Slovakia towards respecting women’s human rights is impossible without extensive system-level changes to remove the causes of existing human rights violations.
The Women – Mothers – Bodies II publication seeks to describe some of these causes and various other system-level aspects related to the violations of women’s human rights in Slovak birthing facilities. To identify these causes, a series of in-depth interviews with obstetricians and midwives proved to be an important source of information. On the one hand, these professionals are confronted on a day-to-day basis with the system of the institutionalised provision of birth care from within; on the other hand, they, at the same time, represent and create this system. The present publication focuses on various factors affecting the way birth care is provided and the quality of such care, while understanding these factors in their cultural context and from a wider social perspective as well. For example, the publication focuses on the institutional and organisational setting of birthing facilities and hierarchical arrangements of power and authority within them; on decision-making mechanisms regarding how care is to be provided in a particular case; on the mechanisms preserving the status quo; on personal and other resources, including hospital equipment; and also on how obstetricians and midwives are trained, or how they perceive women giving birth.
In a number of places, the publication compares and confronts the views and opinions of healthcare personnel and women. Even though interpretations and reflections on several aspects in the provision of birth care are diametrically different between these two groups, they all agree that the Slovak system of birth care is seriously flawed. The publication may, therefore, serve as a good starting point for further discussion on these shortcomings in order to seek and find solutions to drive the Slovak birth care system towards one where care is provided in line with women’s rights.
You can download the full summary HERE.