Photo used with kind permission by Lucy Baxter of Mandrake films


This young woman’s name is Azerbab. She was married when she was twelve. She went into prolonged obstructed labor when she was fourteen. She was in labor for a week during which time her infant died. After a few days, she was able to deliver her dead infant. Then later she discovered she had developed an obstetric fistula. She was incontinent of urine and stool. She was told that her condition was a punishment from God. Her husband divorced her, her village shunned her. She spent the next seven years curled up in a ball on the floor of a mud hut. She vainly tried to control her incontinence through starvation. During the years she was alone in the hut, she prayed to God to tell her what she had done wrong to deserve this.

All of this needless physical and psychological devastation could have been prevented with better education and access to health care.