As a 25-year old unmarried woman, the amount of unsolicited advice that I receive about my ‘dying ovaries’ is bizarre and amusing. This amusement takes a backseat when you realise that the ‘golden advice’ comes from a the deep-seeded view – women can only exist as ‘mothers’ and ‘wives’. Anything that may remotely enlighten you about your right and autonomy over your body is ALWAYS shushed! The result? Instead of knowing about your rights over your own body, you have a whole lot of stigma that clouds your access to your rights. What makes it worse is that irrespective of whether you’re married or in a relationship, your sexual and reproductive health is everyone’s agenda, but yours.
Addressing this inaccess to information, CREA and Global Health Strategies ran a week long campaign (from 22nd to 29th September) on YKA, sharing some crucial information abortion as a reproductive health right. It led to some important conversation being generated around September 28, Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. The campaign highlighted 5 critical things that every person must know (but is not told) to not only demand their right, but also fight the stigma associated with women’s reproductive health and right. All the below infographics are sourced from CREA.
1. You have to petition a court if you need an abortion above the limit of 20 weeks.
Yup, this is true even in cases of rape, incest, and prenatal screenings that show anomalies of the foetus after 20 weeks. In India, a lot of survivors of sexual assault don’t come forward due to the intense shame and stigma. This is one of the prime reasons many women have been petitioning to increase the legal limit to 24 weeks. It’s a shame that thousands have to suffer because the court tells them what’s right to do with their body, and what isn’t. But recent judgements show a brighter future.
2. More than half of the abortions that take place in India are unsafe
When it comes to abortion statistics, it’s a shocking picture. We are never told about the safety precautions we need to take and the questions we have the right to ask doctors. Even though abortion is a crucial reproductive health right, how many of these stats make national news?
3. Women above 18 years of age do not require their partner’s consent to get an abortion.
“But how could you just go ahead and do it?” is a question many women are asked. However, no one talks about how, for adult women, the law protects our right to our body and what we choose. This useful infographic has more on grounds to seek an abortion, and the requirements needed to provide an abortion.
4. A severe gynaec and provider shortage is limiting access to safe abortion
In 2010, the government developed the Training and Service Delivery Guidelines for Comprehensive Abortion Care. But due to obsolete methods and severe shortage in providers, many women suffer when it comes to seeking safe abortions. From counselling to the post-abortion stages, women need support at every stage. If we don’t have enough trained professionals, how can we ensure every woman gets access to this right without hindrance?
5. In the last 9 months alone, 11 cases have gone to court regarding abortion after 20 weeks
These cases prove that the conversation around increasing the legal limit to seek an abortion must be amplified. Like the SC said in July 2017, “A woman has the sacrosanct right to her bodily integrity and it is her choice.”
Share this crucial information ahead using #AbortTheStigma. And if you have a story around why the silence around abortion must be broken, YKA is your safe space to speak up. Publish here today.