Disrespect and abuse during childbirth in district Gujrat, Pakistan: A quest for respectful maternity care

PLoS One. 2018 Jul 11;13(7):e0200318. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200318. eCollection 2018.


Background: Disrespectful and abusive practices at health facilities during childbirth discourage many women to seek care at facilities. This may lead to maternal morbidity and mortalities. Despite severe impacts, such practices remain hidden and are rarely reported in developing countries.

Objectives: The study was carried out to assess the prevalence and determinants of the disrespect and abuse (D & A) during child birth in rural Gujrat, Pakistan.

Methods: A cross sectional household based study was conducted in tehsil Kharian of district Gujrat. Data was collected using an interview based questionnaire from the women who had a live birth within the previous two months (n = 360). The D & A scale was based on standard Maternal and Child Health Integrated Programme indicators. Multiple logistic regression was used to find out the determinants of reported D & A.

Results: Almost all women experienced D & A (99.7%) during childbirth according to objective assessment "experienced D & A". However, only 27.2% reported subjective experience of D & A "reported D & A". The main determinant of reported D & A was facility based childbirth (OR = 13.49; 10.10-100.16) and lower socio economic strata (OR = 2.89; 1.63-5.11). The risk of reporting D & A was twice in public health facilities as compared to private. Women who had reported D & A were more likely to opt for changing the place of childbirth for next time (OR = 4.37, 95% CI = 2.41-7.90).

Conclusion: D & A during childbirth is highly prevalent and under-recognized in Pakistan. High prevalence at facilities and particularly at public facilities can be a reason for underutilization of this sector for childbirth. Maternal health policies in Pakistan need to be revised based on the charter of respectful maternity care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric* / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / standards
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Physical Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Professional Misconduct / psychology
  • Professional Misconduct / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respect*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.