Every woman counts

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

After returning from Pakistan, Amsterdam and New York, I’ve finally had a little time to work on my project on Childbirth and maternal mortality in Pakistan and put a first big selection online on my website.

You can see the work via this link.

I visited Pakistan for the first time in November 2009 with the intent of addressing different women’s rights issues. With a recent operation that I had been through still fresh in my mind, the contrast between the standard of medical care I had received in Europe and the care that the women in rural Pakistan received was stark. Soon after meeting Dr. Shershah Syed, a gynecologist and women’s rights activist, I decided to focus my attention on maternal mortality and fistula alone. Seeing the challenges that these women were facing with my own eyes made me realize how important it is to tell their story.

Pakistan loses one women every 30 minutes to preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth, while about 3,000 cases of obstetric fistula occur each year in the country. One in every eleven children born in Pakistan dies before his or her fifth birthday. It’s estimated that around 52% of women in Pakistan give birth at home, usually without skilled or trained birth attendants.

Heartbreakingly, most of the deaths and complications surrounding childbirth are treatable. Young women die because they have no access to sufficiently equipped medical facilities, or because the traditional midwife (dai) doesn’t refer the women in time to the hospitals when complications arise and a caesarean section is needed. In a place where poverty is rife, most families can’t afford the medicine or care they require.

I hope this work will move you in the way these women have moved me.

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