UN calls on Croatia to officially investigate obstetric violence  

The UN has called on the Croatian government to take action on obstetric violence after the #BreakTheSilence campaign resulted in more than 400 testimonials by Croatian women who had experienced abusive medical procedures.

Gea Alessi
Gea Alessi NewsMavens, Europe
UN calls on Croatia to officially investigate obstetric violence   - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Surgical procedures performed without anesthesia, verbal abuse and refusal of painkillers: this is what women in Croatia go through when they have necessity of accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare.  More than 400 testimonies of these mistreatments have been put forward in the few days following the beginning of the #BreakTheSilence campaign in 2018.    

"They tied up my arms and legs and started the procedure of curettage without anaesthesia. That means scraping the cervix, the internal organ, without anaesthesia. Those were the most painful 30 minutes of my life" 

This is the horrifying description the MP Ivana Nincevic-Lesandric gave of her own experience during a parliamentary session. Her testimony sparked the campaign and gave the courage to speak up to women who had suffered from the same abuses.

Currently, UN experts of the Commissioner for Human Rights are pressing the Croatian government to act, especially in light of the fact that some politicians have questioned the credibility of these stories.  

Details from the story:

  • Croatia has a strong cultural Catholic heritage, which makes it difficult to address a topic like women’s reproductive health
  • Croatian gynecologist Ulla Martonsays that these practices come not only from habit, but also from the belief that women are meant to be mothers, so they must be able to take pain
  • Both the health minister and Split hospital, which treated MP Ivana Nincevic-Lesandric, have denied her story.
  • Obstetric violence is an issue that affects all European women.
  • Women in other European countries have launched similar campaigns.  
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