50.50: Investigation

Interactive: What women are telling us about childbirth in COVID-19

Our team of feminist investigative journalists is documenting abuses of women’s rights during COVID-19. We need your help to finish the job.

Ani Hovhannisyan Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu
15 October 2020, 8.13am

When the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March, the World Health Organization issued specific guidance to ensure that women continue to receive quality, timely and respectful care before, during and after childbirth. 

But our team of feminist investigative journalists found this guidance being breached in at least 45 countries – from women being forcibly separated from newborns and denied birth companions to being forced to undergo ‘mandatory’ C-sections. 

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Since we published our initial findings in July, we’ve asked women, health workers, journalists, activists and anyone else with details of similar experiences to share them with us online. The interactive on this page features some of their stories.

One 39-year-old pregnant woman died after she could not find a driver to take her to hospital in Uganda. A British midwife in Indonesia said there are private doctors who are no longer "doing" vaginal births and are only performing cesarean sections. 

Daniela Morales, 27, from Santa Cruz, Chile, said she was exposed to coronavirus in hospital when she was put in the same overnight room as a COVID-positive woman.

High-profile doctors and human rights lawyers have condemned the abuses we uncovered. They said these incidents were unnecessary and that governments could face legal consequences if their COVID-19 reponses undermine women’s rights.

Our team is continuing to document these cases. If you have any information about similar incidents during the pandemic – either from your own experience, or from local reporting in your country – please fill out our form. Our journalists will review the details that you submit before adding them to our dataset. 

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