AIMS Submission to the Violence Against Women and Girls call for evidence

AIMS has responded to the call for evidence to inform the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy 2021 to 2024 Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Call for Evidence

We noted that although the call for evidence discusses many of the forms which violence against women can take, there is no mention of obstetric violence either there or in the public survey. Obstetric violence is increasingly being recognised as a serious violation of women’s human rights. In 2014 the World Health Organisation commented on the many forms it can take including: “outright physical abuse, profound humiliation and verbal abuse, coercive or unconsented medical procedures (including sterilization), lack of confidentiality, failure to get fully informed consent, refusal to give pain medication, gross violations of privacy, refusal of admission to health facilities, neglecting women during childbirth to suffer life-threatening, avoidable complications, and detention of women and their newborns in facilities after childbirth due to an inability to pay.”

Previously, in 2019 AIMS submitted evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women on “abuses during facility-based childbirth”. Our submission is here here and the Special Rapporteur’s report is here

The AIMS Helpline has supported many women who have suffered physical or psychological injury as a result of obstetric violence. We are also aware of how difficult it can be for women to have such concerns taken seriously or to receive redress. We have therefore taken the opportunity presented by the call for evidence to raise the issue of obstetric violence with the Government. You can read our submission here

We know that many people have had experiences which they did not realise were obstetric violence. As the WHO have said this can include neglect, violence, confidentiality breaches, discrimination and more. Common forms of obstetric violence which we hear about on the AIMS Helpline and which you might have experienced include:

  • a midwife or doctor examining your cervix without explaining why and asking your permission

  • being pressured into an induction of labour when you did not want it

  • being made to wait for pain relief

  • not being provided with food or drink

If you would like to make a submission yourself you can do so using this link before 26th March 2021

We hope that this page is of interest, especially to our colleagues in the maternity services improvement community.

The AIMS Campaigns Team relies on Volunteers to carry out its work. If you would like to collaborate with us, are looking for further information about our work, or would like to join our team, please email

Please consider supporting us by becoming an AIMS member or making a donation. We are a small charity that accepts no commercial sponsorship, in order to preserve our reputation for providing impartial, evidence-based information. You can make donations at Peoples Fundraising. To become an AIMS member or join our mailing list see Join AIMS

AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all.

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