What if childbirth is accompanied by ‘violence’?

What if childbirth is accompanied by ‘violence’?
What if childbirth is accompanied by ‘violence’?

A caesarean section or a ‘cut’ in the buttocks for which the patient did not give permission, disparaging comments about sexual behavior by the doctor, or a lack of adequate care among specific groups in our society? Women’s right to self-determination and their psychological or physical integrity can come under pressure at many times, to the extent that in some cases violence can be said to occur.

Screenwriter Elisabeth Lucie Baeten recently told how she was only diagnosed with adenomyosis, a chronic disease in the womb, after six years. Senator Celia Groothedde (Green) was told countless stories. “Think of an unwanted pregnant woman without papers who is sent from pillar to post until after the abortion period. Or someone whose undiagnosed endometriosis was dismissed as normal menstruation, who lost her relationship and job as a result and ultimately only received the right help in Ireland. No one is likely to anticipate such situations, but it is completely avoidable suffering.”

‘Husband stitch’

Especially unethical and undoubtedly punishable is the practice of the so-called husband stitch, in which, after a cut, the entrance to the vagina is stitched more than necessary, purely for the man’s sexual pleasure. For women it can cause severe and long-lasting complaints. It is highly unclear whether this often happens, but according to some associations it also happens in our country.

All these phenomena were mapped out in the Senate, at the request of Ecolo and Groen. That was a tough process with no fewer than 37 hearings. On Friday – in the absence of the N-VA – a report was finally approved with around ninety recommendations, with which parliaments and competent ministers can get to work.

For example, you are asked to collect figures and testimonials. For example, figures should be made available per delivery location for the number of caesarean sections, cutting, etc. Healthcare providers should inform patients better and be more aware of patient rights. Professional organizations should see whether they can impose stricter sanctions for serious or repeated offences.


The gynecologists of the Flemish Association for Obstetrics and Gynecology (VVOG) expressed fierce criticism of an earlier version of the report last year, causing a vote to be postponed at the last minute.

“We are pleased that several points have been met, but not all measures are simply feasible,” says spokesperson and doctor Isabelle Dehaene. “How exactly do you define gynecological violence and will you be able to collect precise figures? Violence also implies malice, and obviously that is not what we want.”


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