Summary: Women’s rights groups urge investigation into alleged mistreatment of pregnant indigenous women in southern Mexico

2nd April 2014: Women’s rights groups in Mexico, including SRT grantee the Reproductive Information Group (GIRE), have appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate the alleged neglect and mistreatment of pregnant indigenous women by the public health system.

Activists working in southern Mexico report that they have encountered at least 20 cases of women being turned away from hospitals while in labour and being forced to give birth outside. Photo and video footage of some of these incidents has been posted on social media sites. Health officials claim that the cases are isolated and unavoidable due to overcrowding and lack of resources at some health centres, but some women’s rights activists believe that the cases represent a pattern of substandard care.

The problem came to national attention in 2013, when a photo was shared in social and print media showing a Mazatec woman who had just given birth on a lawn outside a health centre in the village of San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz. The picture encouraged other women to come forward with similar stories, including an 18-year-old woman who gave birth in the bathroom of a shelter next to a hospital, having allegedly been refused medical care.

Most of the publicly-known cases are from Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s poorest regions, which already suffers from high rates of obstetrical problems and maternal deaths.

The Commission heard the women’s rights groups’ presentation on the individual cases, and requested that the State implement the necessary measures to deal with these and prevent them from recurring in the future.

Article from USA Today:

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