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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Resistance of Mayan Women against Obstetric Violence


Mayan women are often victims of obstetric violence in the Yucatan Peninsula. Obstetric violence is defined as violence women experience by health officials or midwives during birth. This article will examine five different communities within the states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo in Mexico and compare and contrast activism efforts against obstetric violence among Mayan women. Mayan women are organizing to create unions for midwives, workshops on reproductive rights and health care, and demonstrations that advocate for the end of obstetric violence in their communities. Through unstructured interviews and participant observation, this research illustrates the variety of experiences these women face when giving birth, and the expressions of activism women utilized to counter obstetric violence and resist larger issues of structural violence. This research can help us understand the obstacles Mayan women face and provide strategies for organizations, governments, and institutions to further support and empower women’s organizing strategies. Such work is important for informing practical solutions to end obstetric violence in these communities.

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