Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Rights

Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Rights

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Sajida Shah

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) include every individual’s right to decide for their sexual well-being and reproduction without any discrimination, violence, and compulsion. Moreover, SRHR ensures individual’s ability to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in activities related to sexual & reproductive health; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and means to do so. In addition to that, SRHR also includes the right of all individuals to have respect for bodily and emotional integrity, choose their partner, decide to be sexually active or not, have consensual sexual relations, have consensual marriage, decide whether or not, and when, to have children, and pursue a satisfying, safe, and pleasurable sexual life. The common and central element of SRHR and Sustainable Development Goals is the empowerment of girls and women and creating a world that is just, equitable, and inclusive.

Exploitation of women’s sexual and reproductive health rights are often deeply fixed in societal values relating to women’s sexuality. The society I belong to is a male dominant society, where women are considered to be the subordinates of men. The patriarchal concept about women’s roles within the family is all about to produce off springs and to obey their men. In addition to that, early marriage and repeated pregnancies frequently as an outcome of efforts to have male offspring because of the preference for sons, has a shocking effect on women’s health with at times fatal consequences. Women are also often blamed to be responsible for infertility, suffered from isolation and being subjected to various human rights violations. Keeping all these in mind, I found that the biggest challenge in my area is to seek health care for reproductive health issues. There are many reasons behind this issue which has become a big challenge for us to overcome. Firstly, the cultural conservatism binds women to strict patriarchal rules such as, women do not have right to education in majority areas, they are supposed to marry when they are in their teens, they must not dare to ask for their rights and they have to give birth to sons etc. These rules hinder girls and women to share their health issues especially the most sensitive part i.e., Sexual & reproductive issues with the dominating persons either the family member or a male doctor. Secondly, lack of awareness about safe sex, use of contraceptives, self-examination of reproductive parts and complications of repeated pregnancies etc. Thirdly, the lack of responsibility of stake holders. As it has mentioned earlier that women are considered as the subordinates of men so their health issues are also neglected by head of families, head of community and other stake holders. I think this untouched issue is the outcome of the gender gap among people. If the gender gap will be eliminated from the patriarchal mind set then automatically these issues will be shared among intimate partners. It can be helpful to understand and take steps for sexual reproductive health and rights for women.

Almost every individual either men or women needs to understand sexuality. A comprehensive sexuality education can reduce the chances of exploitation of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

People in our communities thought that the sexual and reproductive systems are very sensitive and private matter. They must be kept behind curtains and the issues related to them must not be shared with any one. This cultural conservatism can hinder our efforts. To overcome cultural conservatism, we can teach the community about the complications of not discussing such issues as well as we will try to motivate for examination of private parts of the body. Moreover, our youth is not interested in such issues, motivating youth to be the part of our campaign is another challenge for us. For this purpose, we can arrange some interesting programs such as theater plays, dramas, and speech competitions on the topics of Sexual and reproductive health and rights. For arrangements of seminars and theater plays we will need money, so it can be a challenge for us. There are NGOs who provide funds for such productive activities. For funding purpose we can approach NGOs and donors as well.

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Pamir Times

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.