Reproductive & Sexual Rights of Women in India | UPSC Notes

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Reproductive and Sexual Rights of Women in India

Some facts — 

  1. India is among the higher number of maternal deaths in the world 
  2. Maternal Deaths — UNICEF and World Bank — >45,000/year | one maternal death in every 12 mins
  3. Almost 50% of the pregnancies in India are unintended 
  4. In India about 15 million abortions annually — this is 33% of total pregnancies 
  5. About 81% women relied on medical termination rather than using contraceptives 
  6. In rural areas, people think that sterilisation is the ONLY way to avoid pregnancy — massive unawareness about reversible methods like IUD, contractive devices 

Abortion Rights 

  1. Only 22% of the abortions are done through registered public or private health facilities. Rest are done clandestinely.
  2. Why unsafe Abortions?
    1. Lack of access to clinics
    2. Lack of affordability due to less public clinics
    3. Stigma and societal attitude attached
    4. Apathy of the doctors/staff, especially towards young girls — they unnecessarily force the girl to get the consent of parents or husband, despite no such requirements by the law.
  3. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 — provides for termination only upto 20 weeks — if this limit is exceeded then the woman has to approach a medical board and courts to seek permission, which is an extremely excruciating process.
    1. An amendment to the Act is being proposed — increased the upper limit to 24 weeks — many medical science experts have argued that many abnormalities are observed after the 21st week 
    2. Aimed to increase the coverage of save abortion services to maximum number of women. 
    3. Amendment to extend the cover unmarried girls also (as recommended by many women groups).
    4. This Act is all the more important as women are not much aware of contraceptive devices — ES 2017 said that more than 50% pregnancies in India are unplanned and unintended. 
    5. NFHS-4 told us that only 53% women have used any kind of contraceptive ever. Thus safe abortion is needed. 
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Way Forward 

  1. Awareness among the young people and society to change the attitude.
  2. Realisation of the rights of women over her body.
  3. Reproductive rights 
  4. Sex Education at the school level from the start. Remove the stigma and taboo.
  5. Civil society, parents and society all have to realise their own role and make girls more empowered from the start. 
  6. Increase the density of affordable registered clinics and provide better training to the doctors/staff.
  7. Strict actions against the bogus clinics.