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Since its incep­tion in 2004, AFAR has been denounc­ing the rou­tine imple­men­ta­tion of inter­ven­tions with­out med­ical indi­ca­tions or sci­en­tif­ic valid­i­ty (lack of evi­dence) car­ried out with­out the con­sent of the woman, or with con­sent obtained via unfair information.

The term “obstet­ric vio­lence” was used in 2004 in our exchanges with Que­bec activists of the peri­na­tal­i­ty — see Pour une nais­sance insoumise in Gré­goire, Lysane et Stéphanie St-Amant (dir.), Au cœur de la nais­sance : témoignages et réflex­ions sur l’ac­couche­ment, Mon­tréal, Remue-ménage, 2004, p.361–382. Recent­ly (2018), in the French-speak­ing world, it has been agreed to asso­ciate vio­lence suf­fered by patients of gyne­col­o­gists, hence the term “vio­lences gyné­cologiques et obstétri­cales”.

Obstet­ric vio­lence also includes ill-treat­ment (threats, neglect …) and inap­pro­pri­ate pain man­age­ment: live cae­sare­ans, etc.

Accord­ing to Stéphanie Saint-Amant (inter­view on Planète F Mag­a­zine, 23/04/2014), obstet­ric vio­lence is a form of mal­prac­tice that may be sub­tle, often invis­i­ble, and that caus­es harm or dis­turbs women. This mal­prac­tice often goes unno­ticed, because it is so com­mon, so unno­ticed. There­fore, it is not just an “assault” by a care­giv­er (although there exist many of these acts of uncon­trolled vio­lence). Here we mean sys­temic vio­lence, insti­tu­tion­al vio­lence in atti­tudes and prac­tices.

Obstet­ric vio­lence can have var­i­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal con­se­quences on mater­nal and/or fam­i­ly well-being: bad expe­ri­ences, dif­fi­cult begin­nings with the baby, in addi­tion to post­par­tum depres­sion or post-trau­mat­ic stress.

Sev­er­al groups or soci­eties affil­i­at­ed with CIANE offer a sup­port adapt­ed to spe­cif­ic problems: