Protect Your Sister Project is committed to increasing the understanding of the causes, prevention and treatment of Obstetric Fistula. This devastating and preventable childbirth injury occurs after prolonged obstructed labor. In countries where medical help is easily available, women usually have access to life-saving measures such as a Cesarean Section to deliver their infants. However, when a prolonged obstructed labor occurs (which happens in about 10% of all pregnancies) women in remote, rural areas usually do not have the means or transportation to get to a hospital or to trained, equipped medical professionals.

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Used with permission by Bonnie Ruder/Terewode

Because the cause of Obstetric Fistula is not understood, when a baby becomes obstructed during labor, it is often thought to be a supernatural punishment against the mother. Women may be taken to a local religious leader or traditional birth attendant who may use dangerous, even fatal methods to force the woman to deliver.

These women suffer unimaginable pain and often don’t survive, and their infant usually dies as well. Where the infant presses upon the bladder or rectum during labor, the tissue gets crushed. This causes a hole to form which results in uncontrolled incontinence of the mother. Women may also suffer other neurological damage.

Ongoing incontinence typically results in the woman being divorced, shunned from her family and enduring extreme shame and loneliness. She is both physically and psychologically destroyed. Such devastation could have been entirely prevented with better education and increased access to health care services.