OBGYNs (Obstetricians and Gynecologists) in South Asian countries are notoriously known for being judgmental. Not entirely stereotyped however, most women have faced doctors who have judged them for sexual choices/having premarital sex.
Hailing from a misogynistic Desi background primarily focusing on patriarchy, I have always been judged about my outlook on sex and life in general. This did not change, it was especially clear the moment I went to the doctor. OBGYNs are supposed to guide your younger self about sexuality in general but from my personal experience that was never the case. I was never asked if I were sexually active, and you could see the judgment on their face when they came to know that I ‘unfortunately’ had engaged in premarital sex.
South Asian countries have a dearth of gynacs in general, with most not available for people of all economic backgrounds. The remaining few, accessible to the general public, have the most hypocritical outlook on women and sexuality in general. My relative is a doctor specializing in fertility and IVFs and she judges working women who come to her for abortions because they aren’t married.
This hypocrisy is just not prevalent in South Asia, but amidst all misogynistic areas where choices aren’t respected. Women from UAE and Bangladesh have reported to having OBGYNs asking them questions about their marital status to ensure their sexual activity. Instead of asking direct questions about women having sex, indirect half-hearted embarrassed attempts are made to ask women if they are indeed engaging in physical intimacy with their partners. Educated Indian doctors ask unmarried women why they need contraceptives if they are unmarried.
This deeply rooted sexism and hypocrisy riddled slut shaming finds its cloying roots among men and women who have literally studied in order to protect and heal people. It is deeply upsetting indeed. For OBGYNs to not be sex positive is not only unrealistic but ridiculous to a certain point. A friend of mine spoke out about how her doctor gave her the most disgusting looks when she told him how she wanted prescription contraceptives but she wasn’t married. There have been cases where women with cases of PCOS were treated only because their fertility were being affected and women apparently “live just to give birth”.
My friend, and neighbor, was lectured about what the ill-effects of having sex were from her OBGYN, when she had gone to get treated for PCOS.
Another acquaintance of mine was told that she had disappointed her parents by “having premarital sex because virginity should be kept for your husband” by her doctor.
A friend from Bangladesh reported about how her doctor refused to treat her the moment she learnt my 19 year-old friend wasn’t a virgin. Cases like these are common everywhere you travel, from UAE to Nepal.
Again, this hypocrisy is just not reserved for the women but for the Queer community as well, whose members are repeatedly asked intrusive questions by OBGYNs about their sexuality and physical self (while some refuse to admit transgender men and women as patients). This disgusting and sickening attitude horrifies me.
When education fails to teach people about the evils of misogyny, what else will help?
OBGYNs, especially in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, are prone not to spread sexual awareness and accurate information regarding sexual taboos and sexual health. No I am not negating the respect for the profession, practicing medicine is indeed a great thing. Doctors should be respected and for good reason. But we need this sexist attitude to be done away with for good.
This fear of getting pregnant and having to get rid of the fetus because one is unmarried is honestly so sad. The choice of conceiving is being taken away from women for fear of society, and doctors are helping the process. My relative in fact talked shit about one of her patients (whom she refused to admit) because she was sixteen and pregnant and wanted her child to be aborted. This kind of unnecessary hatred against women’s right to choose what they sexually deem fit is frankly nauseating.
Doctors in South Asia are of course not properly sensitized about women’s sexual health. Because of the conservativeness and the judgmental outlook, most women fear visiting the doctor and self-diagnose themselves (which is way way more harmful than having premarital sex, my dear doctors).
I wouldn’t say all OBGYNs are similar, and this is not a hate essay about OBGYNs. This is a hate essay against misogyny and patriarchy and rules of social morality whipped up by conservative controlling men. Every act of theirs can be rooted back to simple patriarchal stereotypes.
The way women are denied sex positivity, even in the 21st century is shocking. This needs to stop at all costs. I am asking OBGYNs to not act as the moral police, society polices women enough to last us a lifetime.
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