In a country like India, where women are deprived of fundamental human rights, lesser-known rights like reproductive rights seem a far-fetched dream. In basic terms, reproductive rights give every woman the right to decide whether she wants to reproduce and the right to get good reproductive health.
Every now and then we hear incidents of crimes against women and their unawareness of their these basic rights is one big reason that such crimes don't seem to end.
Under HerZindagi's new campaign, HaqSe, we have been untangling rights and laws for women in India with the help of a legal expert weekly and we recently spoke about reproductive rights with our expert, Civil and Criminal Lawyer Kinnari Mehta. During our chat, we discussed what reproductive rights are, why they are important and how a woman can claim reproductive rights.
What Are Reproductive Rights?
"Basically, reproductive rights are the right to make a choice. Right from engaging in a physical act to keeping the pregnancy, including these two and all the steps in between related to pregnancy are reproductive rights. The woman has the freedom to decide if she wishes to reproduce. Further, she has the choice to reproduce whenever she wants. Not just that, she is the one who has the right to decide how many kids she would want to reproduce," said the expert.
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Why Are Reproductive Rights Important?
Speaking of the importance of reproductive rights, the legal expert said, "When a woman reproduces, she goes through both mental and physical changes. Apart from the changes, her entire lifestyle changes, her career decisions get affected, the financial responsibilities too increase. A woman goes through a lot. Thus, it is essential for a woman to understand reproductive rights. There are cases where rape victims where the woman gets pregnant and isn't allowed to make a choice to reproduce. For such women, the situation is even worse. A child out of a criminal act like rape only leaves her disturbed."
Many don't even understand how an uneducated decision to carry a pregnancy can negatively affect their entire life, it all comes down to the unawareness about reproductive rights. (Laws Are Not Enough To Ensure Safe Abortion In India, Here’s Why)
Judiciary's Role In Reproductive Rights
The expert further shared that the government and judiciary play a major role when it comes to reproductive rights. She shared that over the years, laws havechanged time and again. Earlier, the pregnancy termination act only covered married women, however, today, it covers any woman. The term husband has been changed to partner to give status to live-in relationships and pregnancy outside marriage. Women have the right to terminate a pregnancy under the Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Act.
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Our legal expert concluded that things can change if girls are taught about reproduction from an early age, and made aware of their rights around it. If you missed watching this conversation on our Instagram handle, watch it now. For more stories about women's rights, stay tuned!