By Daniela Drandic
The Italian Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (AOGOI) has issued an official reaction to the research on obstetric violence commissioned by the Obstetric Violence Observatory (OVO-Italia).
In the face of harsh evidence that obstetric violence is a problem in Italy, this professional organisation has instead decided to deny the fact that it exists. Unfortunately, this is something that we have seen play out in other countries as well.
Problems can only be solved if all stakeholders come together to solve them. By ignoring the problem, the Italian Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is doing the exact opposite.
A translation of the statement is provided below, thank you to Daniela Torrisi for taking the time to translate it for an English-speaking audience. The original statement can be found on the AOGOI website.
DOXA investigation into “obstetric violence” campaign #BastaTacere (Break the Silence) vs. diffuse documentation
Recently papers and inquiries regarding “stories of obstetric violence” in Italy, together with the statement that there are data about it, have been brought to the attention of the Aogoi (Italian Association of Obstetricians-Gynaecologists)
It is clear that the modality of presentation of the inquiry, which puts together the words “violence” and “obstetric”, implies a severe derogatory effect for the professionals of the sector.
In facts, the words “obstetric violence”, at the time of communication, are on their own immediate means of offence of the reputation of healthcare professionals, transcending into patent attack and aggression of the moral sphere of other, and it certainly does not constitute a generic and licit content of evaluation or expression of an opinion respectful of the correctness of the language and allowed by our laws.
The “first national research realised by Doxa for the Observatory on obstetric violence in Italy in collaboration with the associations “la Goccia Magica” and “CiaoLapo Onlus” [a civil society organisation] and it denounces that 21% of Italian others with children between 0-14 yo allegedly have been subjected to physical or verbal abuse during delivery or other actions against their psychophysical dignity.
In the disseminated document extremely offensive expressions which refer to deplorable behaviours allegedly pertaining to the professional profiles of midwives, obs-gynae and healthcare support workers), which never took place and have never been proved, inducing in the mind of the reader an unfair and intolerable complete distortion of the Italian healthcare reality and in particular of the maternity care, which obtains a severely defamatory and damaging of the professionals’ reputation. They use many quotes and connotated description with completely no basis whatsoever, as much as less direct expressions but not less dangerous because insidious and suggestive, where they discuss about Italian mothers who would allegedly have been victims of some form of physical or psychological violence by maternity providers or who would allegedly have received delivery care damaging for their dignity and psychophysical integrity.
Healthcare providers, doctors and midwives, are accused of performing sneaky episiotomies, needlessly and damaging, describing the practice as genital mutilation, maiming their vaginas and perineums with “no reason or usefulness”. The description is that of a desolate panorama, even with numbers and rates, of women who, when they are not the victims of sadistic and inconsiderate violence, they are abandoned, neglected, left alone under the human and assistential point of view, at risk of their life. The conclusion is that the acts of violence, the damage inflicted, the behaviours against dignity and privacy are allegedly the reason for the decrease in the birth rate in Italy, for the consequent decision of women not to have more children after the first.
It is apparent that the seriousness of this false reconstruction of Italian healthcare which is made of midwives and obstetrician-gynaecologists who are sadistic or neglecting of the patients, who, reap victims out of sheer cruelty. The discredit spread on the whole healthcare professionals, on the Italian public healthcare system and in particular on the staff present in the delivery units of our hospitals, to their decorum and to their reputation, the unfounded statements, describing an assistance to delivery which is inhumane, barbaric and tyrannical, is completely censurable e and reprehensible and there cannot be any extenuating circumstance or any justification under the pretext of social usefulness or duty of information of the public.
The conduct appears even more serious for the refusal of a debate and of explanations, when at the request of clarifications on the regrettable situation and at the request of disclosing the source of the data and rates which have been disseminated, the answer was a refusal motivated by the unwillingness of the responsible of the study.
It can be deducted by the disseminated documents that the research by Doxa was commissioned by the “observatory on obstetric violence” founded by Alessandra Battisti and Elena Skoko) and was funded by the associations “La Goccia Magica” and “CiaoLapo Onlus”, that the initiative represents the continuation and evolution of the information and awareness raising campaign “bastatacere: le madri hanno voce” and that it supports the law proposal to make obstetric violence recognised as a crime by MP Zaccagnini and Senator Romani, against a “submerse phenomenon” which “scars for life the victims” who even decide not to have more children for the consequences of the trauma.
The unequivocal reference to extremely serious facts and circumstances allegedly attributed to the maternity healthcare staff, midwives and doctors, through “direct accounts” of mothers all in anonymity, the alarming data and percentage without identifications of the sources from which they were extracted, make the sneaky derogatory campaign even more reprehensible and disgusting because it does not leave any space to confute and reply.
The political agenda and the financial advantages revealed by unequivocal circumstances raise complex and legitimate suspicions.