Women In Burkina Faso are dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth because of sex discrimination Amnesty International said in a new report.Gender discrimination is stopping women in the African state from making key decisions about family planning and health care, the rights group says. Every year in Burkina Faso more than 2,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, according to government figures – that’s as many as six women die every day. In a special report on maternal death in Burkina Faso, Amnesty found that many of these deaths could have been easily prevented if women were given access to adequate healthcare in time.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, and Amnesty International says it is the country's poor, rural women whose lives are most in danger. Many women are married by the time they are 19, and girls continue to be subjected to early, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Poverty, and shortages of supplies and trained medical staff as well as corruption are other underlying causes for high rates of maternal death in Burkina Faso, said the report, Giving Life, Risking Death.“Every woman has the right to life and the right to adequate healthcare, and the government should redouble its efforts to address preventable maternal death,” said Amnesty International’s interim Secretary-General Claudio Cordone. “Women in Burkina Faso are trapped in a vicious cycle of discrimination which makes giving birth potentially lethal.“Maternal death is a tragedy that robs thousands of families of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters each year. So long as women are not allowed control over their own bodies, they will continue to die in their thousands. Some men the researchers talked to, particularly in rural areas, feared that birth control would encourage their wives to be promiscuous and unfaithful. Many women do not even know about the 2005 law that gives women the right to choose how many children they will have and when they will have them.
Despite government subsidies since 2006 that sharply reduced the cost of childbirth, poorly paid medical personnel still ask for informal payments with impunity. The report cites instances of staff forcing families to buy bleach to clean up birthing rooms or pay for ambulance services and medicine that should have been free. Amnesty says this corruption undermines the government's good intentions and the progress Burkina Faso has made in recent years.Amnesty International is calling on the government to improve access to family planning, to remove financial barriers to maternal healthcare services, ensure an even distribution of health facilities and trained staff across the country and to set up a well-publicised, accessible accountability mechanism to help combat corruption and mismanagement.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children