Voicing Labouring Bodies: Women’s Narratives and Gender Violence


  • Maria Cristina Nisco Università di Napoli Parthenope, Italia



Parole chiave:

obstetric violence; gender violence; birth stories; discourse analysis


This paper takes shape from the debate on the role of human rights in maternity care, following several emerging cases of obstetric violence and aggressive and intolerant treatment permeating care during labour and delivery (Freedman et al.). In 2015, the WHO released a statement to prevent and eliminate disrespectful, nondignified behaviour by health professionals during childbirth, highlighting a physical as well as emotional and psychological violence. Early in 2019, a UN report warned against obstetric violence as being still widespread and systematic in nature, acknowledging it has not been fully addressed from a human rights perspective so far. Despite the fact that the phenomenon is gaining recognition worldwide, there seems to be a lack of theoretical engagement on the issue (Dixon). This study, therefore, explores how women’s experiences are discursively construed, taking into account the stories shared on social media—in advocacy websites, blogs, Facebook groups, and a series of relevant hashtag threads. Indeed, social media are being used by patients as a platform for exchanging their views, writing their testimonies, thus creating a (safe) site for the production of meanings (Baumann). While projecting the image of suffering bodies facing abuse, humiliation and unconsented medical procedures, these narratives allow a critical thought on practices of discrimination which heavily affect women’s agency and act like a prism reflecting dominant dynamics in society.


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Biografia autore

Maria Cristina Nisco, Università di Napoli Parthenope, Italia

Maria Cristina Nisco, PhD in English for Special Purposes, is Associate Professor in English Language and Translation Studies at the University of Naples ‘Parthenope’, where she is also a Board member of the international PhD programme in ‘Eurolanguages and Specialised Terminologies’. Her current research areas include identity and diversity in news and legal discourse, through the lens offered by CDA and corpus linguistics. She has published extensively in edited volumes and refereed journals on the linguistic and discursive construal of ethnic and gender diversity, migration, and disability. Her recent publications include Agency in the British Press: A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis of the 2011 UK Riots (2016), Languaging Diversity (co-edited with G. Balirano, 2015), and Language, Theory, and Society (co-edited with G. Balirano, 2015). She is also the co-editor in chief (with G. Caliendo) of the international peer-reviewed I-LanD Journal.




Come citare

Nisco, Maria Cristina. 2020. «Voicing Labouring Bodies: Women’s Narratives and Gender Violence». Altre Modernità, n. 24 (novembre):121-38. https://doi.org/10.13130/2035-7680/14549.