Monday, May 23

Irene Montero, on obstetric violence: “Not naming it will not cease to exist”

“We have the obligation to recognize it in our legislation and in public policies”, defended the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, on the inclusion of obstetric violence as a form of gender violence in the reform of the Abortion Law that is negotiating the government. Montero has stated that it is “a very invisible reality” suffered by “many women” and has defended that the objective is that the consultations “promote good practices”, but “it is not about criminalizing anyone”, he said about some doctors’ opposition to the concept.

This was explained in an interview with the editor-in-chief of Gender at, Ana Requena, within the framework of the event organized by this newspaper to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the Micromachismos blog. During the meeting, which focused on machismo in gynecology, self-knowledge and pleasure, the minister assured that “we are at a time when more and more women decide to share these experiences and give them importance”. A reality, that of obstetric violence, that “will not cease to exist for not naming it” and that is why “the work of the institutions is to recognize it”, she has assured.

The Government is currently immersed in updating the Abortion Law eleven years after its implementation with the aim of “guaranteeing sexual and reproductive rights for all women”, said the minister. Among the objectives will be the elimination of “the obstacles” that prevent abortions in public centers, end the three days of reflection that the law currently contemplates, recover the right of 16 and 17-year-old girls to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancy without consent or include obstetric violence as a form of gender-based violence.

Although the minister has been cautious because the draft of the law drawn up by Equality is under negotiation, she has assured that the objective is “to promote that good practices are the only practices” in gynecological consultations and in childbirth care. Something that “professionals themselves are already doing in hospitals by creating specific units” to promote respected childbirth.

The idea is that the non-consensual, invasive or unnecessary practices about which more and more women are breaking the silence “disappear from our society because it is the only way to guarantee sexual and reproductive rights,” she argued.

“It is not a feminist crusade”

The head of Equality has recognized that there is “resistance” with the recognition of obstetric violence, a concept that raises controversy and has been rejected by the General Council of Official Colleges of Physicians (CGCOM). However, he has assured that “it is not a crusade of Spanish feminists or the Ministry of Equality”, but that Spain “has a commitment to international organizations”, including the UN, which has already defined obstetric violence as a form of sexist violence.

Montero has insisted on speaking of “good practices” when the focus is on professionals, but “from the point of view of the women who suffer this violence we are talking about their sexual and reproductive rights.” The minister, in addition, has claimed the importance of promoting “quality public health” and has valued the work of health professionals.

After the interview, the head of Equality shared a table with the journalist and writer Irene G. Punto, the president of the Madrid Association of Midwives, Cristina González, and the lawyer specializing in obstetric violence, María Emilia de Sousa. “Women have to have the tools to file a legal claim, if necessary, but public prevention policies are essential. When you have already been a victim, what you want is reparation, but before that any woman prefers not to go through there”, added Montero.

The minister has also highlighted the importance of comprehensive sexual education in all stages of life, one of the public policies that also aims to “guarantee from the earliest ages” through the reform of the Abortion Law. And she has given the example of nursery schools and the educational stage from 0 to 3 years, where children “are already being educated and also have to learn comprehensive sex education adapted to their ages.” The goal is for education to reach all stages of life, but also “in the informal sphere, to families and culture”, she added.