Today, on International Women's Day, another woman will join the some 2 million others suffering from obstetric fistula.
She will labor, perhaps at home and completely alone, for one, two, three days. She will move, she will cry and she will fight, desperately, to deliver her baby. Instead, the soft tissue in her her baby's head will compress her pelvis, causing the tissues to die and leaving a hole, called a fistula, between her vagina and bladder, or rectum -- or both. And so after the prolonged labor, she will be left childless and incontinent, leaking urine and feces and finding it difficult to do anything -- go to the market, attend church. Perhaps, as is often the case, she will smell so bad that her husband kicks her out of the house, forcing her to fend for herself.
It is a horrifying story, but Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says, one that must be told. The group is fighting to draw attention to the issue of obstetric fistula, a preventable effect of obstructed labors that impacts women in remote and impoverished areas of the world, particularly sub-saharan Africa and Asia.