Pregnancy. It’s meant to be a very magical and memorable time for women. Growing life, the purest thing a person can give to the world: a tiny baby. This time should be filled with excitement and joy, buying baby clothes and picking a name or names. No pregnant women should ever feel ashamed or unsafe during this precious time but around the world. But everywhere from USA to India there are many pregnant women who face major discrimination every day, and in multiple different but all excessively, cruel ways.
In many countries (particularly developed ones) we praise the ‘equality’ and ‘fair treatment’ citizens receive, but looking deeper into situations we can see that this a lot of the time is not the case, and with pregnant women this is exactly the same and ‘equality’ is not always there. For some it never is.
This discrimination is not only from the general public (families, employers, medical staff) but from the government, the law makers of the world, the people who are meant to protect others and make sure everyone is treated fairly. The legislation which is meant to prevent this injustice seems to be causing the discrimination in itself, and in many cases leaving pregnant women suffering through lack of rights and unfair treatment in some if not all aspects of daily living. Not the life for any person never mind a pregnant woman.
Pregnant yourself? Already a mother? Or just genuinely curious? Here are 15 Crazy Laws That Actually Discriminate Against Pregnant Women.
15 You Are Protected, But Also Not
In developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America the laws are usually something to be proud of. These countries are against discrimination and its citizens are said to be protected under legislation and law. Pregnant women are said to be protected under the ‘Sex Discrimination Act’ so that employers cannot fire a woman because she is pregnant. Unfortunately, many employers do discriminate against pregnant women and choose to fire them anyway, and when said woman tries to take their employer to court this is where the law discriminates.
The law states that ‘A pregnant employee needs to disprove the employers stated reason for their unfavorable treatment’. This being very difficult to disprove as often in these cases, it is the employer’s word against the employee’s, and the employer almost always wins leaving the pregnant woman suffering after losing their job because of pregnancy discrimination.
14 Have The Baby Then Back to Work
The United States of America is one of the most developed countries in the world. Some would say the greatest country in the world, but it is not without its flaws including when it comes to discrimination against pregnant women. In fact, it has one of the shortest maternity leave arrangements in the world. Women at the end of their pregnancy/having their child are only given 3 weeks paid maternity leave. 3 Weeks!
After this a woman is expected to find child care and go back to work or be made redundant. This is a massive difference from the past 6 months and maternity leave other countries offer their mothers-to-be. And with child care costing a large amount and the need/pressure to breastfeed your children, this law puts pregnant women in a very tough and sometimes impossible predicament. Thus the reason this has made our list of discrimination laws.
13 Only Way Is Breastfeeding
Now this law more applies to mothers but it definitely applies to pregnant women as well. How they choose to feed their child is a difficult decision that is thought about through pregnancy in preparation for the birth of the child/children. Women often get discriminated if they decide to bottle feed their children because of the main view in society being ‘breast in best’.
Although this is the view most pregnant women around the world have; that they still get the choice on how they feed their children, as they rightly should. But in the United Arab Emirites they have a law which states ‘all women MUST breastfeed their children unless for medical reasons this is not possible, and in that situation they will be provided someone to breastfeed for them’. Some may see this law as good, but essentially, this leaves pregnant women unable to make the choices they want for their children and takes away free will.
12 Virus But No Choice To Abort
Abortion is a tricky subject across the world. Many see it as cruel but others see it as it should be the choice of the woman. Most people agree that if the fetus were to have a life-threatening disease, which would cause nothing but suffering from when they are born onward, it would be the kinder thing to do for both mother and baby to terminate the pregnancy. But in Latin America the view of their government is very different.
Latin America suffered with an epidemic of the ‘Zika virus’, a virus where if a pregnant women contracts it, the baby is likely to be infected causing a horrible list of problems such as shrunken skull, brain damage, too much muscle tone, deformed limbs and more. When the epidemic came over Latin America, women were warned not to get pregnant but for the people who already were pregnant and infected- they had no choice but to go to full term with their suffering baby as abortion is illegal even in these circumstances. Again, this takes away free will and right that women should have.
11 One Child No More
There are many families across the world who would adore a large family. A family of 10 kids or more and this is their choice whether to have this giant family or not – freedom of choice being such a wonderful thing.
But a law that changes this choice all together is China. China having the largest population of any individual country on the planet (calculated at 1.388 billion this year) they decided to implicate a law that took away the choice to choose how many children you can have, something a lot of us take for granted. China’s law states that ‘a woman may only have one child’ and if a woman were to get pregnant a 2nd time they would incur a hefty fine – a third time even worse as they would be made to have a forced abortion. Although over the years China has become more lenient, letting some families have 2 children instead of the law abiding one, this legislation still stands strong.
10 Third Child Fine
Similar to the last law on our list. In Kerala, India there is a very similar legislation to control population growth which in turn takes away freedom of choice. India having a population of 1.311 billion and Kerala on its own holding 38 million citizens, the country felt it had no choice but to try and control/reduce the growth. In Kerala, India a woman is free to have one child and then again a second is she wishes but a third child is a big, NO! In Kerala, India if a woman happens to get pregnant with a third child, they have to pay a large fine for that child as well as any children they decide to have following the third.
This is yet another law that has a major shock factor, taking away women’s right to choose the size of their family and forcing pregnant women into paying money that could be spent somewhere a lot more meaningful and worthwhile.
9 Sorry Dads
This shocking law is being focused on dads but evidently affects pregnant women as well. In the United States of America, as I mentioned, only 3 weeks’ maternity is given, but that is nothing compared to what paternity fathers get. They obtain NO paid paternity leave at all. A dad’s role is vital not only in looking after the baby but helping the mother through the end of her pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks of baby’s life as she recovers. But because of the law in United States of America not granting fathers paid paternity leave, they are forced to stay at work to provide for their family sacrificing special moments and bonding time between father and child.
8 Forced To Sign
A significant number of women across the world now work, some in jobs they have had to work years to get, when they become pregnant. The expectation should be that when a woman comes to the end of their pregnancy she gets to go on maternity leave for a reasonable amount of time agreed upon by employer and employee, then returns when they she is ready. But in many countries- some unexpected- what should be the expectation is far from reality as there is a legislation that prohibits women from returning to the job they once had.
In Greece, Croatia, Italy and Portugal women who fall pregnant are made to sign their resignation from their work immediately which can be used to dismiss them from the duties in their employment near the end of the pregnancy. This not being a dismissal for maternity leave but a complete dismissal from employment, making these pregnant women jobless and unable to return unless they re-apply (and even then, the chances are slim). This sort of law is not applicable to any other member of the public, only pregnant women.
7 Pregnant Against Your Will
As was mentioned in an earlier law, many countries only allow termination in certain circumstances such as rape or severe illness of fetus or mother. But there are still a large amount of countries and states that do not allow the abortion/termination of any pregnancy, no matter the circumstance.
This forces women who have not consented to sex and becoming pregnant as a result, to have a child against their will in the most horrible of situations. The countries/states that have this ruling include Latin America (Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua), Malta, Vatican City, Paraguay, Iran, Malawi and Haiti.
This law is so horrendous that it had to make it onto this list. For an example of how harmful this law can be, there was a 10 year old girl in Paraguay who was raped by her stepfather and as a result became pregnant. She was denied an abortion and forced to have the baby despite the health risks, age and rape.
6 Loose Law
Like the United States of America, the United Kingdom is a highly developed country with proud and patriotic citizens. But although there are many laws that are there to fight discrimination and prejudice, they have not been updated in a long period of time causing them to be ineffective in situations such as pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.
Employee’s in the UK have managed to find loop holes in legislations such as the ‘Equality Act 2010’ – when it comes to treatment of pregnant employees, many pregnant women are often sneakily let go from their jobs, highly looked down upon and discriminated against for just being pregnant and afraid to return to work after having their baby if they still have a job to go back to.
Furthermore, despite many equality campaigns asking the UK Parliament to change/update the laws regarding pregnant discrimination at work there has been no action or sign of change from the government leaving us to feel that the law makers of the UK have refused or pushed aside this issue, leaving pregnant women suffering until something is done.
5 No Consent Needed
A close location to the United Kingdom is the Republic of Ireland. Despite this being a beautiful country, they have a law that may shock you.
According to Irish law, a doctor and medical staff (if advised by doctor) may perform a procedure/test on a pregnant woman with or WITHOUT her consent during pregnancy or child birth. This may be understandable in life threatening situations where the mother, baby or both are in danger, but this law states that is does not have to be an emergency for doctors to implement the procedure or test. It can be anything/anytime (as long as they have evidence as to why it must be performed). If the pregnant woman refuses the doctor, his medical team is still legally aloud to perform said procedure. Some may say doctors/medial professionals know best but the breech of freedom of choice should be respected, unfortunately in this situation it is not.
4 Marry The Rapist
A very sickening law indeed, definitely worthy of a place on this list is a law from Malta. Rape is a horrendous and disgusting crime all over the world that should be punished at the highest degree, but in Malta the punishment (if you can even call it that) is far from harsh – in fact in brings more pain to the victims.
If a woman is raped by a male in Malta and as a result becomes pregnant, when he is taken to be prosecuted in a court of law, if he proclaims that he will marry the victim, then that’s his sentence. Marriage instead of prison time seems to be a reward not punishment for the predator where the pregnant victim is now not only deprived of the chance to abort her unwanted pregnancy, but she has no choice but to marry the man that inflicted this situation upon her. This leads to so much more pain and suffering, including a possibility for more assault in the marriage that the rapist (now women’s husband) could not be prosecuted for. A living hell.
3 Deadly Childbirth
In many developed countries such as the United Kingdom, pregnant women have the right to antenatal and prenatal care. You would hope this would be the case in all countries but unfortunately, it’s not. In third world countries pregnant women do not have the right or access to adequate antenatal or prenatal care (unless you have enough money to pay for it, which is very rare). This consequently leads to a high majority of women in countries such as Africa and India to die during childbirth and often the babies will die, too.
This is a massive injustice of humanity, mothers and children should not be dying due to little/no healthcare. Don’t see how scary this is? What about after hearing the statistic that ‘5 women die in India during childbirth every hour’. EVERY HOUR. That is outrageous, something should be done.
2 Work Discrimination
We have covered a lot of laws on pregnant women at work and maternity/paternity leave on this list. But this might be the most shocking law or lack of law of them all. Unlike United Kingdom and United States where there are legislations (flawed, but they are still in place) that try to protect pregnant women at work from discrimination and give at least some paid maternity leave, India as mentioned is no. 3 on this list- is a far cry from the structure and equality of the developed countries.
India has little to no legislation in place to protect pregnant women in the workplace, not just pregnant women in fact, but women in general. Firstly, if a woman applies for a job in India, during the interview process employers are allowed to ask about a woman’s maternity plans including questions such as ‘are you pregnant?’ ‘Do you plan to have a family?’ and ‘Do you have any children’. Although these questions seem harmless they are what could stop a woman from getting the job, which is not right.
Additionally, as many Indian workplaces do not give paid maternity leave, and if by luck a women is granted paid maternity leave, they rarely return to work for long as they are faced with judgment and discrimination for leaving to have a baby or coming back and leaving the baby. It is a hard life to be a pregnant in India as you can clearly see.
1 Scary Strict
The last entry on our list, did the other laws from places around the world shock you? Did you not know pregnant women faced so much discrimination? Well let us try and shock you one more time, this one is a bit controversial.
Back where we started, the United States of America. Among all the laws and legislations we have pointed out from this country that discriminate against women, this one while it aims to make a positive change seems to be doing the opposite.
A law in the United States claims that ‘Pregnant women will incur a high charge if taking any drugs or chemicals, or if found on their person’. This law does not just apply to illegal drugs, some over the counter drugs are included in this, too. While this was made to protect the babies and pregnant women from being harmed, it has seemed to have the opposite effect as it has scared women away from doctors as they do not want to be charged for any over the counter medicine they might need to take. And if they have taken something and it shows in their system, they are to be charged. As a result, many feel they are better off staying away and saving themselves from potential fines.
Again, controversial as many think this law is protecting not discriminating, but from a pregnant women’s point of view it can be scary that you could be charged without even knowing you took the chemical/drug that is on the list. For example, a woman was seen taking pain medication at an airport and when taken to be questioned they discovered she was pregnant and the woman was given a large fine as this was illegal, but she had no idea. Scary strict I say.
Sources: Amnesty.org, MotherJones.com, TheIndependent.co.uk, NoCountryForPregnantWomen.blogspot.co.uk
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