Childbirth Often Traumatic in CEE, But Few Women Seek Redress
Daniela Drandic of 'Parents in Action: Roda [Stork]', a Croatian NGO that lobbies for the protection of women's rights in pregnancy and parenthood, said the accounts reflect a widespread failure to listen to and trust women, as well as a lack of confidence among women in the efficiency and fairness of the courts.
"When they come to the maternity ward, women are in a vulnerable position, the institution expresses its power over them and they simply do not have a voice in the whole process," Drandic told BIRN.
"Who is more qualified to talk about what is happening to her body than that woman to whom it is happening?" she said. "I'm afraid it will be a long time before we start trusting women, not only in this sphere."
According to the results of the questionnaire,
- 84.13 per cent of respondents believe the cause of the complications they experienced during childbirth was medical negligence
- Only 3.06 per cent filed a lawsuit or complaint
- 85.47 per cent said they had no pre-existing conditions that might have caused complications
- 6.5 per cent reported that their baby or babies died during labour
'In the end, they lose'
Illustration. Photo: EPA/PAULO CUNHA.
In 2018, after a Croatian MP shared her own traumatic experience of childbirth, Drandic and the Roda NGO launched a social media campaign under the banner #BreaktheSilence [#PrekinimoSutnju], inviting women to submit written accounts of their experiences with the Croatian health system.
Within days, more than 400 letters had flooded in. Roda submitted them to the health ministry. The campaign resonated in neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia too, where women also began speaking out.