Marginalised women still unable to enjoy reproductive rights

Kathmandu, October 7

The constitution has guaranteed women’s right to reproductive health. However, the majority of women from marginalised communities have not been able to enjoy this right, according to surveys.

Women from marginalised groups have no say in family when it comes to adopting family planning measures and other contraceptives.

Fatima (name changed), 28, who currently lives in Naya Bazar, is from the Muslim community. Being a medical student, she is well aware of family planning methods. Her husband is a migrant worker and she does not want any child before she becomes self-dependent financially. “I cannot even talk about using contraceptives. So I use contraceptive pills without letting my husband know about it,” Fatima shared.

Fatima, who was born in Gorkha and migrated to Kathmandu after marriage, has never heard her mother-in-law or sister-in-law talking about using family planning methods.

Fatima, however, is facing health issues due to frequent use of birth control pills. She said that she noticed untimely menstruation and excessive bleeding during periods. According to Dr Gita Gurung, head of gynaecology department at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, women should not use birth control polls without the prescription of doctors.

Kabita Aryal, chief of family planning and reproductive health section at Family Welfare Division, said women from marginalised groups such as Muslims, Dalits and Chepangs do not have easy access to family planning services.

“In rural areas, we lack proper family planning services and even if these services were available, women hesitate to use such services fearing social stigma and lack of awareness,” she said and added that women in these areas were deprived of their reproductive rights.