On May 10th GIRE organized the first Symbolic Tribunal on maternal mortality and obstetric violence with over 300 attendants who heard the testimonies of 27 women who suffered violence during pregnancy or childbirth, and those families who suffered a maternal death. GIRE is the legal representative for most of these women and families in their search for access to justice. The jury was composed of six international human rights experts who listened to the victims or the family members of those who did not survive.
The participants, from diverse regions across Mexico, presented their stories, each one outlining the human rights violations they faced in public health institutions. For many of the families, these institutions have yet to take responsibility for the negligence or violence committed, and in some instances even tried to bribe the victims and their families in exchange for silence. The 27 cases included 10 maternal mortalities, 24 children orphaned as a result of those deaths, 10 stillbirths, and five neonatal deaths, all due to negligence by government health institutions. In all cases where the woman or the family are of indigenous origin, discrimination was a factor.
The jury presented a series of recommendations for the three branches of government and mentioned the potential impact the testimonies could have for national and international bodies in better understanding and incorporating reproductive justice issues, particularly obstetric violence and maternal mortality, into laws and policy.
The event was a moving testament to the precarious reality women face during pregnancy and childbirth in Mexico, but also served as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the women and families present, who continue raising their voices in hopes that others will not have to undergo similar experiences. The jury’s recommendations will be formally presented to public officials this year, and include calls for guarantees of measures of non-repetition, such as sanctions for health personnel that commit obstetric violence and the permanent supervision of health clinics and hospitals where cases have been documented.