Taxonomy of Human Dignity in Institutional Childbirth

  • Lekha D Bhat Mizoram University, Aizawl, Mizoram
  • Kesavan Rajasekharan Nayar Global Institute of Public Health, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Keywords: Human dignity, Grounded theory, Institutional childbirth, Class, Health care


In the endeavour to ensuring quality health care services, various issues arise that are linked to human dignity and human rights. Human dignity in health care is recognized as the most important non-clinical and intangible dimension. In a qualitative research that is based on grounded theory, we have explored the dignity violations in institutional childbirths in Kerala, India. Key informants interviews, interviews with birthing women and participant observation of six months in labour rooms / wards are the data collection methods employed. It is found out that dignity violation is rampant in these institutions and a general theory of dignity is developed based on the findings. Recognise as a human being, regard as an individual rather than as a tool/machine, freedom from exploitation by medical care providers were common concerns of all the participants. Further, the class differences in their experiences are captured where lower class women raised concerns about discrimination, humiliating language/ tone, shouting, usage of numbers/caste names, physical violence and objectification of body. The upper class women focused more on information sharing, autonomy, use of unwanted and avoidable medical technology and financial exploitation by the health care providers. This research work also contextualises the above-mentioned issues where the conditions that promote dignity violation are present in the asymmetrical relationship between care providers and the patients. Health care providers used very reductionist approach to define human dignity of their patient. The over and inappropriate medicalisation of childbirth, lower budget allocations in the government sector, high profit orientations of the private hospitals etc., make the situation further more complex. These findings will help in developing policies to ensure more women oriented dignified birthing experiences.

Author Biography

Lekha D Bhat, Mizoram University, Aizawl, Mizoram

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work

How to Cite
Bhat, L., & Nayar, K. (2018). Taxonomy of Human Dignity in Institutional Childbirth. Journal of Health Systems, 3(1), 9-13. Retrieved from
Research Articles