Lobbyists endorse Wamuchomba’s campaign against obstetric violence » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 —Githunguri Member of Parliament Gathoni Wamuchomba has received the backing of three lobbyists in her push for a national policy to combat obstetric violence (OBV) against women.

The campaign endorsed by the lobbyists from GAMAFRICA Foundation and Nguvu Change Leaders seeks to promote dignified childbirth.

The activists — Harriet Afandi, Josephine Mwende and Deborah Monari — joined Wamuchomba in advocating for a National Policy on OBV during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.

Wamuchomba recently launched the “Heshimu Uzazi” campaign to support women throughout the childbirth process.

She expressed concern about the mistreatment of women in hospitals and called for urgent legislation to address neglect and abuse.

“Across delivery rooms and maternity wards in Kenya, many women remain similarly unassisted and neglected as they struggle through childbirth, it is even worse if it involves women with disability. This is gender-based violence and needs to stop immediately,” she said. 

The ‘Heshimu Uzazi’ campaign, endorsed by the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), aims to create awareness and support for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

Wamuchomba emphasized the need for legislation against neglect and abuse, stating, “We hope to make the most of the next ’16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ to create conversations that inform, impact, and influence change.”

‘Obstetric Violence’ is described as an intersection between institutional violence and violence against women.

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Humiliation, abuse, and extortion

In 2016, data from various sources indicated that one in five women giving birth in local hospitals across Kenya experienced humiliation, abuse, and extortion.

Harriet Afandi, sharing her experience, disclosed a near-tragedy involving her sister’s emergency C-Section surgery due to the negligence of clinical nurses.

“They(nurses) told her that it was not the ‘right time’ yet. This delay caused by sheer oversight could have led to the loss of my sister and her baby,” she said. 

 Afandi believes that initiatives like the “Heshimu Uzazi” campaign are crucial for protecting pregnant women from neglect and negligence.

Josephine Mwende, a victim of discrimination as an expecting mother with cerebral palsy, highlighted the urgent need to address policy gaps for women and persons with disabilities to shield them from mistreatment in health facilities.

“I was rejected by one hospital after another because of my condition. It was heartbreaking when a doctor told my mother; ‘We don’t handle such people!’ ” she said. 

She would later deliver her baby at the Kenyatta National Hospital. 

“Despite the misconception that women with cerebral palsy cannot or should not bear children, I not only gave birth to my son but also named him, ‘Gift.’ I hope no woman with cerebral palsy ever faces the pain, rejection, and humiliation that I went through.” 

Patient Rights Committee

Deborah Monari, a nurse based in Nairobi, advocated for the establishment of a Patient Rights Committee in all health institutions in Kenya.

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She emphasized that such committees could help alleviate the suffering of women at the hands of rogue medical personnel.

“Many of us still remember the 2017 case of a woman who was forced to give birth on a hospital floor after being turned away from several facilities. That so many women in Kenya are suffering from OBV is symptomatic of the apathy in a failing healthcare system,” she said

The term ‘Obstetric Violence’ is defined by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as “a form of gender-based violence exercised by those in charge of healthcare for pregnant persons accessing services during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.”

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