Research Project

Study on Labour Room Violence/Obstetric Violence

Research Area : Health Services and Financing

The phenomenon of obstetric violence defined as ‘the appropriation of the body and reproductive processes of women by health personnel, which is expressed as dehumanized treatment, an abuse of medication, and to convert the natural processes into pathological ones, bringing with it loss of autonomy and the ability to decide freely about their bodies and sexuality, negatively impacting the quality of life of women’, has gained international recognition with the WHO releasing a strong statement against disrespectful; treatment of women during childbirth.

CEHAT, through its work with women facing violence and distress, has found that healthcare providers discriminate against women who come from vulnerable communities, and religious and sexual minorities. Furthermore, women seeking the services of Dilaasa have confided to the counselors that they have been treated badly by healthcare providers in the form of derogatory comments and rude behaviour, and physically detrimental practices such as slapping and applying fundal pressure to hasten labour.

Though there have been studies conducted on the phenomenon of obstetric violence world over, studies in India have not yet gained traction. Furthermore, studies have mostly explored the prevalence of obstetric violence through surveys with women availing of healthcare facilities. CEHAT has proposed a study which examined healthcare providers’ perspectives about obstetric violence. The study uses the qualitative methodology, and comprises interviews with doctors, nurses, and grade four staff such as ayah bais.  The proposal has been cleared by the IEC committee.

The study comprises three components. The first component is an annotated bibliography on studies exploring the phenomenon of disrespect and abuse during childbirth. The second is a qualitative study examining healthcare providers' perspectives of behaviours constituting disrespect and abuse in labour rooms, and is currently being carried out in two public hospitals of Maharashtra. The third component is a training module for healthcare providers on respectful care for women during childbirth.


Study team:
Durga A. Vernekar (Research Associate)
Prachi Avalaskar (Research Associate)
Sanjida Arora (Research Officer)
Sangeeta Rege (Coordinator)
Padma Deosthali (Former Coordinator)


Supported by: Ford Foundation


Project Publications