New bill ignores reproductive health rightsA new bill to protect the rights of people living with disabilities has ignored the reproductive health rights of women living with disabilities.
A new bill to protect the rights of people living with disabilities has ignored the reproductive health rights of women living with disabilities.
Rights of the People Living with Disability 2072 Bill, which has been tabled in the Cabinet for discussion, briefly touches upon the reproductive right but is silent on reproductive health rights.
“Reproductive health right is not just a fundamental right but also very sensitive issue in a country like ours,” said Shudarson Subedi, president of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal. “The bill has not included this right and we are currently in talks with the parliamentarians. We are trying to make them aware about the gravity of the issue.”
Reproductive health right guarantees women the right to reproduce. Reproductive health right is associated with issues such as women’s right to marry or not to marry. Her choice of sexual partner, safe sex life and access to contraceptives and family planning measures available.
Similarly, safe motherhood, appropriate health facilities during and after pregnancy, and provide women rights to decide about unwanted pregnancies, the number of children they want to have and the gap between children.
The negligence of the policy makers regarding reproductive health rights of women living with disabilities comes at a time when women living with disabilities have been complaining of poor access to contraceptive and minimal facilities at the hospital during delivery.
Coincidently, the new constitution has curtailed reproductive health rights of women—something that was already enshrined in the Interim Constitution. It was only after much advocacy from women rights defenders that those rights were accommodated into the charter.
Likewise, Nepal legalised abortion in 2002 allowing women to terminate pregnancies of up to 12 weeks.
“‘The constitution has already enshrined the reproductive health rights of all Nepali women. However, the bill formulated after the promulgation of the constitution shows how insensitive policy makers really are when it comes to ensuring that women living with disabilities have the right to their own body,” said Meena Thapa, who had to amputee her left leg from below the knee after a road accident.
Right activists argue that it is important to ensure reproductive health rights of women in the bill which will then work as a tool of advocacy to ensure same kind of facilities for women living with disabilities as others in hospitals and other health institutions.
“Having ‘reproductive health right’ penned in the bill will make it easy for us to lobby with the state while making other guidelines and laws,” explained Subedi.