When Hospitals Become Prisons: Marie

As told to MamaBaby Haiti, as part of the Brave Voices, Bold Actions podcast

My name is Marie* and I am from rural Haiti. My baby and I slept on the floor of the hospital in Haiti for 38 days because I couldn’t pay my bill.

My baby died and I felt extremely sad. I was crying unceasingly for my baby I lost. The leaders of the hospital asked me for much money and wouldn’t let me leave until we paid the bill. My husband tried to get me out, even called some of his friends in order to get help, but it was for nothing.

I felt so sad because I stayed in the hospital, I couldn’t go out and see my family, I had to stand and talk to my family through the window. If my family couldn’t bring me anything to eat I would spend all day long starving.

I cried so much that the members from the hospital locked me inside a room and wouldn’t let me out or I would be arrested by the security guards.

I was in the hospital for two months before MamaBaby Haiti found out I was there and paid for me to get out. Everybody who hears my story can help Haiti to have more midwives to help the Haitian women because I don’t want another woman to go through the same situation I went through.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy


Respectful Maternity Care Charter: The Universal Rights of Women and Newborns

Article 7 of the Respectful Maternity Care Charter:

7. Everyone has the right to liberty, autonomy, self-determination and freedom from arbitrary detention.

No one is allowed to detain you or your newborn in a healthcare facility, even if you cannot pay for services received.

Legal authority
International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Article 1
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Article 1, 9.1, 18.1
Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990, Article 37
International Labor Organization, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989

(№169), Art. 2, Art. 5

Regional legal authority
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1998, Article 6, 20
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990, Article 30
American Convention on Human Rights, 1966, Article 7
European Convention on Human Rights, 1950, Article 5

Learn more about the universal rights of women and newborns at https://www.whiteribbonalliance.org/rmcresources

Each of the stories featured in the Brave Voices, Bold Actions series focuses on a specific article from the Respectful Maternity Care Charter.

Read them all:

· Article 4: Dignity and Respect During Childbirth: It’s What Women Want — Mercyline Ongachi
· Article 5: Black Mothers Matter: Racial Bias in Childbirth — Amber Rose Isaac
· Article 6: The Fight to Access Care: Helen Abdul

Inspiring and convening advocates to uphold the right of all women to be safe and healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

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