Tag Archives: Nicholas D. Kristof

Blood, Sweat, and Sensationalism

Do you know what an obstetric fistula is? I sure didn’t before I lived in Niger. It’s not really a term we hear often in North America. This is primarily because most of us have access to pretty great health care, but also probably because most of us don’t give birth before we are in our late twenties.

Nicholas D. Kristof, journalist and co-author of Half the Sky describes the situation of a patient with obstetric fistulas in an article he wrote called New Life for the Pariahs:

This is a childbirth injury, often suffered by a teenager in Africa or Asia whose pelvis is not fully grown. She suffers obstructed labor, has no access to a C-section, and endures internal injuries that leave her incontinent — steadily trickling urine and sometimes feces through her vagina.

She stinks. She becomes a pariah. She is typically abandoned by her husband and forced to live by herself on the edge of her village. She is scorned, bewildered, humiliated and desolate, often feeling cursed by God. Continue reading