LALITPUR, July 15
Women’s rights activists and lawyers on Wednesday urged Constituent Assembly members to ensure ‘reproductive health right’ of women in the new constitution.
Speaking at an interaction organised by Sancharika Samuha and Forum for Women, Law and Development on ‘Draft Constitution and Reproductive Health Right’ in Lalitpur on Wednesday, rights activists said the draft constitution has talked about ‘safe motherhood and reproductive right’ which cannot address issues related to reproductive health in a broader perspective.
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes
Article 43(2) of the draft constitution states that ‘each woman shall have the right to safe motherhood and reproductive health and foeticide on the basis of identity of gender shall be punishable by law’, while the Interim Constitution had stated that every woman shall have right to reproductive health and other reproductive matters.
Advocate Sabin Shrestha said that the constitution should guarantee ‘reproductive health right’ of a woman and not just ‘right to reproduction’.
“Right to reproduction is the right given to women by nature, but right to reproductive health should be ensured in the constitution as it defines various rights related to women from her birth to death,” Shrestha said.
He said that the constitution of various countries such as South Africa, Ecuador, Serbia, Colombia, North Korea and many others have ensured ‘reproductive health right’, but the Interim Constitution of our country had addressed it better.
According to International Conference on Population and Development-1994, reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
Even the World Health Organisation follows the same guidelines while defining reproductive health right of a woman. “Reproductive health right gives right to reproductive health and other issues such as menstruation, infertility and other health problems of women such as uterine prolapse, fistula, cancer and others,” said Dr Indira Basnet.
Another advocate said that if women’s reproductive health right is not ensured in the constitution, women would be treated again like the machine that give birth to babies to fulfill the wish of her husband and family.
Speaking at the programme, Onsari Gharti Magar, CA Vice-chairperson, said that every human being has the right to live a free life but women have been obliged to live a life which is controlled by men.
“We want power based on equality and for that the constitution should ensure equal rights to women and men,” she said.
She expressed her commitment to include ‘reproductive health right’ in the constitution.
Gharti Magar and other lawmakers including Gagan Thapa, Laxman Lal Karna, Deena Upadhya, Dr Bansidhar Mishra, Durga Poudel and others also appealed to all general public to suggestion in writing to the CA to revise the draft based on people’s suggestions.
A version of this article appears in print on July 16, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.