Combatting violence against pregnant women


Woman with a baby

Violence against pregnant women during labour and delivery is not an uncommon problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), says midwife Thethe Lukusa.

“The frequency of violence against pregnant women during labour or delivery is worrisome and is also one of the factors contributing to increased stress in pregnant women,” said the professor and member of the Congolese Society of Midwifery Practice.

To combat the issue, midwives in DRC, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Benin are being trained in respectful maternity care as part of Midwives Save Lives. Prior to a program reform in 2013, midwives weren’t trained in respectful maternity care, yet were making major decisions about maternal, newborn and childhood health practices.

Thethe and members from the four partner midwifery associations attended a Cuso International workshop on gender equality and social inclusion earlier this year.

Many attendees spoke of how doctors, nurses and midwives mistreat pregnant women, citing clinical neglect, monetary demands, discriminatory treatment, denial of traditional practices and verbal, physical and psychological abuses.

“The Congolese Society of Midwifery Practice is currently working very hard with all midwives to promote the rights of women to receive and expect respectful maternity care and it is working with the Ministry of Health to advocate for the addition of a respectful care approach in the training modules,” said Thethe, who is based in Kinshasa.

Now in its third year the MSL program is also teaching midwives how to perform maternal and neonatal emergency obstetrics for complications such as hemorrhaging, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, obstructed labour, sepsis and anemia.

“The other professional health workers treat us with respect and recognize us as experts in the field of obstetrics,” said Thethe. “Since training, I am motivated to work in maternity, to share with my colleagues, to put into practice what we learned and to save lives.”