‘Amigas, sisters: We’re being gaslighted’: Obstetric violence and epistemic injustice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter deals with epistemic aspects of the phenomenon of obstetric violence, mainly by observing the phenomenon from the perspective of recent theories on epistemic injustice, specifically through the concept of ‘gaslighting’. I argue that a central part of obstetric violence has to do with labouring women being disbelieved, distrusted, and (unjustifiably) questioned regarding their violent labouring experiences and, more pressingly, even being made, themselves, to doubt their own experiences of violence. I show that this distrust operates both during the experience of labour and afterwards, when women attempt to tell others about their (violent) labouring experiences and to obtain epistemic recognition from others. I emphasise that this experience of deep distrust needs to be taken not simply as a response to the phenomenon of obstetric violence, but it must be recognised as a core part of the phenomenon itself. In synthesis, I argue that to be a victim of obstetric violence means (also) to be continuously gaslighted: first by the medical staff and then by those who listen to the victim’s story.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildbirth, Vulnerability and Law
Subtitle of host publicationExploring Issues of Violence and Control
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780429812910
ISBN (Print)9781138335493
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 selection and editorial matter, Camilla Pickles and Jonathan Herring; individual chapters, the contributors. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Health Professions
  • General Medicine
  • General Social Sciences


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