The woman was “a victim of obstetric violence, a particular type of violence against women… which has been shown to be widespread, systematic in nature and ingrained in health systems”, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said.
The woman’s suffering began after she went to a hospital in northern Spain after her water broke at 38 weeks of pregnancy.
“She then suffered a caesarean section, without any medical justification, while her arms were tied down and without the presence of her husband,” the committee added in a statement.
It said she had “lasting physical and mental trauma” after her experience, for which Spain must provide “appropriate reparation for the damage”.
The committee did not name the woman.
It also demanded Spain provide complete information to women at every stage of childbirth so they can make informed decisions with consent.
The committee also said the victim, who had brought to case to Spanish courts, “encountered gender stereotypes and discrimination throughout the administrative and judicial process”.
At one point during her bid for justice in Spain, she was told it was for the doctor to decide whether to perform a caesarean and “the psychological harm she had suffered was simply a matter of perception”, CEDAW said.
“If doctors and nurses had followed all applicable standards and protocols, it might be possible that the victim would have given birth naturally without having to go through all these procedures that left her physically and
mentally traumatised,” committee member Hiroko Akizuki said.