This article examines the disrespectful, abusive and violent maternity care that many South African people face.
It identifies this conduct as a human rights violation and argues that intentional abusive maternity care should be
labelled as obstetric violence, a specific form of gender-based violence, and that it should be criminalised. This
approach reflects a nascent global trend to act against obstetric violence, and draws inspiration from statutory
crimes introduced in Venezuela and Mexico. Building on the Latin American experience, the article proposes
how the current legal conception of obstetric violence should be further developed to suit the unique position of
pregnant people in South Africa.