There are women in this thread who have been victims of both sexual rape and
birth rape. Please be respectful.
This is a thread for women to share their experiences with birth trauma or birth rape. To let it out and to find support among mothers who have had similar experiences.
Birth Trauma Can Cause PPD and PTSD: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/127116/birth_trauma_can_cause_women_to_develope.html?cat=52
I shouldn't have to say this, but this is a support thread. It's also in Suffering & Loss. Therefore no unsupportive, derogatory, mean or negative will be tolerated.
Here is an article on birth rape:
NO Means NO, even in hospital
Does no always mean no? Does it matter where we are? Does it matter what we are wearing? Does it matter what we are doing? Who defines rape? Is there ever a grey area?
It doesn’t matter where we are. It doesn’t matter what we are wearing. It doesn’t matter who we are with, or how many people, or whether they are men or women. We know this! No means No. Always. Rape is rape. There is no grey area. No means No. Women are raped in their own homes, it doesn’t matter where we are. It is never ok. No means No.
So does it matter if we are in hospital? What about while giving birth? If we are not asked “Can I put my hands in your vagina?” or if we are asked and we do not say clearly “Yes, that’s fine” giving clear and informed consent, then what happens? Is this acceptable? What if we are not asked, and someone puts their hands in your vagina? Is that acceptable? Is it acceptable anywhere else? No. So why is it acceptable in hospital?
“But this is what birth is like for women”
Why don’t we deserve respect while giving birth? I was told in prenatal classes, among other things, that I should “leave my dignity at the door”. I think I left more than my dignity at the door. I left my human rights. I went to give birth expecting to be disrespected. Does it have to be like this? Don’t we deserve respect always?
Many women feel cheated and sad after their birth experience, and certainly many feel they were not respected. Women who are unhappy with their experiences deserve support and comfort. Fortunately, some women are happy with their birth experiences. But sadly some women feel as though they have been raped. Feelings about a past sexual assault can resurface after giving birth, but also a woman who has not previously been sexually assaulted can be left feeling like she has been. Perhaps the woman was not respected while giving birth? Some women are assaulted in birth. This is the name they give to their experience; Birth Rape. They feel that this term means they were raped while giving birth, or afterwards. Men or women or both, inserted their hands, or objects into their vagina or anus without clear permission, or by manipulation or coersion. Women have shared their birth stories publicly and they feel they have experienced what they call birth rape. They have been in hospital, giving birth and midwives and / or doctors have inserted their hands into their vagina without permission and sometimes without notice. Women have screamed “NO, NO!” “STOP!” “GET OUT!” and they have not been listened to. Some have even been told to relax or to stop complaining. Some have had their vaginas cut without permission and some while screaming “DON’T” or “NO”. There was no consent. In fact, these women where clearly refusing medical ‘treatment’. Is this acceptable? Why does this continue?
This is part of one woman’s description of her birth rape experience;
The process of [the midwife] placing the [vacuum extractor] cup on my unborn son's head was probably the single most painful experience of my life. She continued to explain how she needed to force my cervix back and how it would all be over soon as I begged her to STOP and told her to get her hands (both of them now) OUT of me. I was in tears…”
She continues later in her story to say this;
I was violated, by women I trusted, without medical cause for the violation. There is no legal protection for the rights of laboring women to say NO to invasive procedures that their birth attendants deem "necessary". The hands of another human being were inside me. I screamed NO and begged her to stop. Not one person, not even the man I loved sitting beside me, thought that my NO meant anything. My body was violated, my will was violated and it was considered "normal". It meant nothing to anyone, not even me. Until I recognized that my right to say NO didn't end when I became pregnant or even when I went into labor, I assumed that my birth was natural, normal and good. Once I realized that my rights were violated during my birth, my life changed forever”.
“But this is a necessary medical procedure / environment, so it’s not rape”
Most would agree that a vaginal exam needs clear permission before it is to be performed, if it even needs to be performed at all. There is medical evidence to say that a vaginal exam actually hinders labour, and increases the chance of infection. A website run by UK midwives sites this medical research about vaginal exams;
Many women find vaginal examinations painful and sometimes traumatic (Menage 1996); sensitivity to this issue, privacy and continuity of midwife will make them less so. Vaginal examinations measure of the progress of labour imprecisely when performed by different examiners (Clement 1994). Where possible therefore, they should be carried out by the same midwife. Examinations should not be routine or prescriptive but carried out only where there is clinical necessity and after discussion with the woman. Midwives should give weight to their other skills in determining the progress of labour (McKay and Roberts 1990). "Repeated vaginal examinations are an invasive intervention of as yet unproven value"
(Enkin 1992). http://www.radmid.demon.co.uk/Evidence.htm
With any other medical procedure, no one is permitted to insert anything into a vagina without clear permission. As you enter the doctors surgery for an appointment, if the doctor immediately inserts his hands or an instrument into your vagina without warning, is this rape? What if we knew we were going for a pap smear? Then is consent implied that we are allowing our doctor to put objects or hands into our vagina at any time? Any vaginal exam needs clear and informed consent, every time.
The BRISSC centre in Brisbane includes this information in their definition of rape;
Rape is more about the abuse of power than about sexual attraction or the desire for sexual gratification. Rape is when someone uses their power, manipulation or force to intimidate, humiliate, exploit, degrade or control another. Rape has been used as a weapon in war, in racial violence and in everyday life. Rape diminishes a person's dignity and their human rights to safety, choice and consent. Our definition takes into account that a person may feel as if they have been raped in circumstances that are not legally defined as constituting rape. Rape may not involve actual physical injury. It is an act that may be experienced as a violation of the physical body, and/or on emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. Rape may also be defined as a process by which people feel that they do not have the right to say no and have their rights respected.
Some examples of rape include;
A general practitioner convinces a woman to undertake an intimate examination when it is unnecessary or inappropriate.
Many believe that vaginal exams are often unnecessary. We should have the right to chose if we want vaginal exams or not. We should be able to refuse ‘treatment’ at any time. Any other time that we are in hospital we can refuse treatment. When we sign in to hospital, the paperwork will most likely state something about "any other procedure deemed necessary" (which you can cross out and initial). This may then mean that this violation of women’s rights is legal. [Ed note; Not sure about this section - don't like the wording]
The legal definition of rape would most likely not include birth rape as rape, but does that mean it’s not rape? Birth rape would fit in the definition above, and it is a term used by victims themselves. Whether you feel that birth rape is a proper definition of rape or not, it is real for many women, and that is what matters. Have we become so conditioned to violence in our world that we think this is acceptable? From what is described, it is clearly violence against women. It is a complete lack of human rights when our bodies are not are own, and when we are not respected in birth.
Another woman shares her thoughts on birth rape;
“Our vaginas don't "know" the difference between a gloved hand full of self importance and a socially sanctioned rapist and they react exactly the same way. Anything that happens to a woman's body without consent is called rape or assault but somehow hospitals have exemption from this. I know for sure that if it happened in the street with that many witnesses you could go to the police”.
Birth is not a medical procedure. Birth is birth. It belongs to women and it is being medicalised and taken from us. We are vulnerable when we are giving birth, and we deserve the utmost respect. We are powerful, wonderful creatures, we deserve respect and so do our vaginas.
Kya ends her story of her birth rape with this comment;
“Pregnant women have a right to privacy, even (or maybe, particularly) genital privacy. That right doesn't end when labor begins. It should never end. Women deserve the right to say NO and be taken seriously at any and every point in their lives. No doctor, no midwife, no stranger, no husband, NO ONE should be allowed to violate them without consequence, ever again!”
Her full story can be read here;
To read one midwifes thoughts on birth rape, follow this link;