Maternity Action report: A vicious circle – The relationship between NHS charges for maternity care, destitution, and violence against women and girls

Pregnant migrant women’s experiences of poverty and destitution are inextricably linked to experiences of violence against women and girls (VAWG), and NHS maternity charging further exacerbates this.

This is according to a November 2019 report (pdf) from Maternity Action on the interrelation between NHS charges for maternity care, destitution and violence against women and girls.

The report also finds that:

  • Domestic abuse often begins and escalates in pregnancy, whilst it is also estimated that as many as 1 in 4 pregnancies involve some form of reproductive control
  • Consequently, NHS charges can trap women in abusive relationships as debt and the threat of their immigration status is used to control them
  • Maternity charging is indirect sex discrimination, because it is only women who are charged for maternity care. Thus, It can be argued that this is a violation of their human rights
  • Trauma, shame, fear of being disbelieved, fear of so called “honour based” violence are barriers to women and girls reporting VAWG to police or disclosing to friends and family.
  • In addition, racism, language barriers, fear of engaging with the authorities due to immigration status compound the problem for migrant women.

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