“Abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children because part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.”
– Katha Pollitt
Our perception of our body is regulated by the society. More often than not we feel conscious about our bodies and are often hesitant to do anything which is entirely our choice or in our favour. But, for how long shall we obey society’s patriarchal dictations and orthodox laws?
The 46-year-old abortion law in India is one such model of a fallacy that’s failing its women on so many fronts. It is among the most liberal laws in the world, but that’s absolutely a cold comfort to women facing life-or-death situations.
The daunting case of a 10-year-old little girl 32 weeks pregnant with her rapist’s child, was denied abortion by Supreme Court; the disheartening story of a 14-year-old girl, made headlines when news broke that extreme poverty forced her to marry the man who admitted to raping her, so that she could feed the child born out of the abuse; or a girl in Haryana who had to risk her life by pulling out the foetus by herself because she could not come out to her family about being raped by her close relatives. These cases have one thing in common, they shed light on the broken legal system of our country and the notion of victim-blaming of a rape survivor in the society.
It raises important concerns for the legally permissible limit of 20 weeks for abortion under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, and the urgent need for amendments to it. Women are the ones who suffer the most, be it pre-marital sex and failed contraception, marital rape or conceiving without the consent, or a rape resulting in pregnancy. Abortion is a choice, and it is on ‘she’ – the woman to decide what she wants.
But the choice remains a white lie full of stigmas around abortion in our society. The very existence of this stereotype is a result of taboos around sex in India, and the practice of sex-based selection because of the deep-rooted discrimination between a boy and a girl child.
Trust me when I say this – no one is going to come and serve it on a silver platter for us. A world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life, with her future, without question, is a world we seek to live in. To achieve this, we need to break the taboos surrounding body images and reclaim our bodies.
A change will only take place when it becomes a part of our everyday conversations. So, talk about it. Let’s not hope for someone to be the knight in the shining armour, ladies, be that for yourself. We aren’t waiting for anybody’s permission to get started.
Let’s us all rejoice the freedom of choice, and educate and empower each other. The nation will automatically be a safer and equal place.
This 28th September, the International Safe Abortion Day, let her “decide”, she deserves it.