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Women Fined for Screaming During Childbirth

Husband holding his pregnant wife's hand
Photograph by Getty Images/Purestock

It’s unanimous: Giving birth is excruciating—it’s the pain on which all other pains are measured (“Well that can’t be as bad as giving birth”). No one really argues with this.

So then why are women getting fined for screaming while they’re in labor?

We know this seems far-fetched, but according to a report released by Transparency International about the state of global corruption, it’s true. In Zimbabwe, a hospital has been identified as issuing a $5 penalty to women for “raising false alarm.” In other words, making noise when they’re not dying, exactly—just giving birth.

Adding insult to injury, if women can’t pay the fine or other delivery fees, the hospital detains them until it’s paid off—with interest, no less. And that could be a very long time, since the cost of labor in Zimbabwe averages at about $50—which may not seem like much but, there, that amounts to a third of a typical family’s yearly income.

It gets worse from there: Hospitals are so strapped for supplies that some women are allegedly asked to bring tools and materials needed for delivery with them. And even then it’s kind of a lost cause, since 10 women die during labor every day.

With as grim a scenario as that, we’re honestly amazed that women there decide to have children at all. On the bright side, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minster has asked for an investigation and called for change. On behalf of the women of Zimbabwe, we hope that change comes really soon.

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