World population has reached around 7.6 billion in 2018, and there are 18% of this consists of Indians. While the increasing world population has also brought many socio-economic issues, it has also contributed to several health-related complex problems.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.
The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, stated that: ‘Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.’
The document further mentioned that, ‘Women and girls have the right to avoid the exhaustion, depletion and danger of too many pregnancies, too close together. Men and women have the right to choose when and how often to embrace parenthood – if at all. Every individual has the human right to determine the direction and scope of his or her future in this fundamental way.’
In Indian, women are often accused of adultery if they get pregnant despite their husband undergoing a vasectomy. That sterilisation may not be 100% effective is a concept, yet to catch up with many couples. There is also the misapprehension among both men and women that a vasectomy causes the former to lose his virility.
Family planning is often tabooed in traditional household of our country, and so undertaking the medical procedure for the same, is still prohibited in some pockets of the country. Also, there is not much awareness on different options available for family planning. While there appears to be a grim picture about family planning in India, this year’s theme becomes important for the nation which is seeing a staggering growth in its population.
The United Nations has issued following nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning:
- Available: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
- Accessible: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
- Acceptable: Contraceptive services and information must be provided in a dignified manner, respecting both modern medical ethics and the cultures of those being accommodated.
- Good quality: Family planning information must be clearly communicated and scientifically accurate.
- Informed decision-making: Every person must be empowered to make reproductive choices with full autonomy, free of pressure, coercion or misrepresentation.
- Privacy and confidentiality: All individuals must enjoy the right to privacy when seeking family planning information and services.
- Participation: Countries have an obligation to ensure the active and informed participation of individuals in decisions that affect them, including health issues.
- Accountability: Health systems, education systems, leaders and policymakers must be accountable to the people they serve in all efforts to realize the human right to family planning.