Not many women in India are aware about what their sexual and reproductive rights are. With lack of knowledge on these rights they are forced into many situations which hamper their health.
When women do not have any say in whether to be sexually active or not, when they cannot take decision on which their partner would be, when they cannot use any contraceptive methods and when they cannot decide when to have children; they are living a life where they have surrendered all their sexual rights.
The Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), mentioned on National Health Portal, India, include the following rights:
- Receive information on sexuality
- Sex education
- Choose their partner
- Take the decision whether to be sexually active or not
- Decide when to have children
- Use modern contraceptive methods
- Access to maternity care
- Safe abortion and post-abortion care
- Know about prevention, care, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infection
Dr Shilpa Naik, a gynaecologist from Sassoon General Hospital, Pune, said, “We doctors at government hospitals come across anaemic women many a times. When they are unaware about contraceptive methods they get many pregnancy related complications as they are pregnant when they are anaemic also. Unwanted pregnancy also leads to anomalies in child. When women know about these rights it will directly help in reducing morbidity and mortality of women and children. Also, when things are forced on women and when she is unaware it leads to many psychological problems and mental trauma.”
Dr Meenakshi Deshpande, another gynaecologist from Pune, said, “Due to lack of proper hygienic practices, there are chances of infections during maternity period. If women do not have right to abortion, it leads to many psychological problems including depression. Sexual freedom is complex thing and it is necessary to have sexual freedom for many health benefits that it carries for adult women. It can be ensured only by giving freedom to every person. There is a need to make people aware about all these rights.”