In Zimbabwe, a country where the average yearly income is $150, giving birth in a hospital can be prohibitively expensive at $50. But at one corrupt hospital, this price can increase depending on how much the woman giving birth screams. Yes, a local hospital in Zimbabwe apparently considers screams during childbirth to be “raising false alarm.” Therefore, each time a woman cries out, she is fined $5.
Not only is this practice a borderline torturous and corrupt way to make money, it is also driving poorer women away from the safety of hospitals. If a woman is unable to pay the fees, she can be detained in the hospital until her family forks over the money (all while accruing interest). To avoid these excessive charges, many women give birth at home, which can be less safe should a medical emergency occur. This has a direct effect on the maternal mortality rate: according to reports by the United Nations, this results in an average of eight deaths during childbirth per day in Zimbabwe.
Transparency International met with the deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe over the screaming fees and he has since promised to look into the problem.
[Photo of woman screaming via Shutterstock]