Media

'Conference Report: Symposium On Reproduction Rights in Indian Courts : Celebrating Progress, Identifying Challenges And Discussing The Way Forward.'

(Mar. 27, 2017)

'Women have the Right to Decide on Pregnancy'

Press Trust of India (Feb. 11, 2017)

It is the woman's "choice" to either have a baby, or abort or prevent pregnancy. It is her right.

Supreme Court judge A K Sikri said this today while speaking on the state of affairs relating to women's reproductive rights and the dominant role played by the menfolk and the family in imposing their decisions.

"When we talk of reproductive rights in this country, then there is hardly any choice so far as the woman is concerned ...I can't help but wonder how we as humans have failed humanity.

"I am perplexed as to how in the 21st century, with all the technological advances, becoming frequent guests in the (outer) space and creating artificial intelligence, we are still not able to bring our women to enjoy the fruits of humanity. That is the harsh reality," he lamented.

Justice Sikri was speaking at a symposium -- Reproductive Rights In Indian Courts: Celebrating Progress, Identifying Challenges And Discussing The Way Forward-- organised by the Jindal Global University (JGU) here.

"Reproductive right, which of course is a human right, is based on the human dignity. When we talk of reproductive rights, it is mixed with another right of women, that is the sexual right. When we talk of reproductive rights in India, there again the choice is of the husband in the family or what the elders say...when there should be a child, whether that child should be male or female etc.," he said.

He also dealt with the criminal practice of female foeticide and the role of men and families in it.

"A woman's choice to reproduce, abort or prevent pregnancy, deals with her body. It is she, who, by the virtue of her anatomy, undergoes the process eventually. It is her body. Its her right," he said, adding "the choice has to be hers."

Justice Sikri justified the judicial over-reach on issues relating to human rights, saying "ultimately it is the judiciary which is the interpreter of the law, having the final say in what the law is."

Referring to the Visakha guidelines which laid down norms regarding women at workplaces, he said the courts have "stretched the boundaries, but there has been no criticism from other quarters." The Guidelines were a set of procedural guidelines evolved by the apex court in cases of sexual harassment in workplace.

Citing the recent Bollywood movie 'Pink', Justice Sikri said a woman must be free to make her own decision regarding her sexual and reproductive rights. "A woman is not free until she own her body," he cited an author as saying.

‘Despite Supreme Court’s order, transgenders still feel discriminated’

The Indian Express (Aug. 27, 2015)

Several participants said the apex court verdict of April 15 last year was not being implemented in several states and felt that the society still misunderstood transgenders.

Transgenders continue to face social exclusion and find it difficult to get official documents including ID cards even after the landmark Supreme Court verdict recognising the ‘third gender’, participants at a recent conference said.

Several participants said the apex court verdict of April 15 last year was not being implemented in several states and felt that the society still misunderstood transgenders.

Activists and members of the transgender community from 18 states and neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh participated in the two-day National Consultation on the Rights of Gender Minority and Gender Variant People in India, organised at Sonepat in Haryana recently by Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) and Pehchan Programme of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Many transgender representatives said it was “almost impossible” for them to obtain identity papers and other official documents like Aadhar or ration cards and passports, and most of the cases came from states like Delhi, Jharkhand, Gujarat and West Bengal, a JGLS release said.

According to Laxmi Tripathi, one of the intervenors in the landmark NALSA case in which the Supreme Court has created the ‘third gender’ status for transgenders, expressed disappointment over the non-implementation of the verdict in several states.

“Despite getting recognition by the SC in 2014, we still do not have rights,” Tripathi was quoted as saying.

Qasim Iqbal, Executive Director of Pakistan-based Naz Male Health Alliance, explained that although Pakistan Supreme Court has recognised the third gender category, there were still issues to be resolved, the release said.

Anonnya Banik, a transgender member associated with Dhaka-based Bandhu Social Welfare Society, gave specific examples of discrimination by doctors, police officers and others and said, “we face discrimination everywhere”.

Bhumika Shreshta from Blue Diamond Society of Nepal discussed the progress made in her country, including issuing of citizenship cards and construction of separate toilets.

Dipika Jain, executive director of Centre for Health, Law, Ethics and Technology at JGLS, said the consultation brought about 40 transgender state activists from 18 states on one platform to discuss the issues related to the community.

The participants felt that governmental delay in some cases was “not only frustrating” but also prevented them from accessing educational and employment opportunities, it said.

Mention was also made at the conference of certain positive developments like the implementation of government schemes like free sex reassignment surgery for transgenders in Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.

Roundtable consultation on Human Rights of Transgenders organised

Web India (Nov. 12, 2013)

A two day roundtable consultation on Human Rights of the Transgender People, Hijras and Other Gender Non-Normative Gender Groups in India was organized by Health, Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET), Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) of OP Jindal Global University (JGU), on November 9 and 10, at the campus of JGU.

The National Consultation was inaugurated on November 9 to deliberate on the legal and social barriers faced by these groups in India. This discussion is pertinent in the light of the Expert Committee on transgender issues set up by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Supreme Court case on transgender rights. The committee has been set up with the view to conduct "an in-depth study of the problems being faced by transgender community and suggest suitable measures that can be taken up the Government to ameliorate their problems."

The committee was set up on the 22nd of October 2013 and has to submit its recommendations to the Ministry by the 22nd of January, 2014. The consultation was a result of the committee inviting suggestions.

Sunil Pant, the founder of the Blue Diamond Society (Nepal's first LGBTI organization), offered his experiences as the primary litigant in Nepal's Supreme Court cases granting transgender recognition and rights. Sunil Pant provided a critical perspective on the process legal advocacy for the rights of gender non-conforming groups. The Supreme Court of Nepal created a new identity category called Others. As a result of this case, Nepal now has three categories, male, female and others. The Supreme Court has clarified that Others is an expansive category including female- to- male, male- to- female, Hijras and others. In Nepal, as a result of this case, people are free to choose which category they would like to identify with.

Qasim Iqbal, Executive Director, Naz Male Health Alliance, Pakistan, who brought an International Perspective to the consultation and said the Supreme Court of Pakistan has now recognized the Khwaja Sara gender category. In 2009 and 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued decisions allowing male, female and Khwaja Sara identities on official identification.

Participants expressed their hopes from the Supreme Court judgment and the Ministry.

Shutanuka, member of Sappho for Equality, Kolkata said "Trans has become synonymous to male to female persons. Female born trans persons are invisible. We need to talk about them and their rights."

One Hijra activist, Raveena, MITWA Chhattisgarh said-"the decision should have a more inclusive and open definition of the "third gender". All we wish from the judgment is justice." Another Hijra activist, Rudrani Chettri said "We are hoping the final decision will be in the favor of the community and we get recognition along with entitlements and rights which are meaningful including education, health etc."

On the question of whether only Hijras should be covered within the judgment or should more groups be accorded protection, Sohini, another activist said, "We surely need to include categories other than Male to Female. It's not about doing good to half and leaving the half. On one hand we are sensitizing the binary of genders and bringing out diversity. We are trying to tell them different ways of articulating gender. Also, trying to inculcate the idea of respecting, tolerating, and protecting everyone rights. Having top down approach won't help and therefore, the bottom down approach should be applied. Third fourth and many more categories would come. We need to respect diversity and individuality."

The participants were unanimous in their view that transgender persons should not be made to submit any medical or legal proof to claim their identity as transgender persons and the choice of identity should be with them. This will be one of the recommendations to the Committee.

Dipika Jain, Executive Director for the Centre for Health, Law, Ethics and Technology, JGU said, "There are very few laws and policies for transgender and other non-normative gender groups. CHLET has filed Right to Information requests to all states and UTs in India on the welfare schemes, policies, laws and census of transgender, Hijras and other gender non-conforming groups. CHLET has only received twenty-two responses as of now. It's publication on the RTI data is forthcoming".

The National Consultation was a collective effort to understand the needs and desires of transgender, Hijras, and other gender non-conforming groups so that the Committee's recommendations reflect the community's perspectives, diversity, ideas and experiences of this very heterogeneous group of people. UNI AKU BM0048 NNNN

NEW DELHI, February 16, 2012
Decriminalisation judgment boosts morale of gay community, says

Ensuring greater self-confidence, verdict has already brought the community one step closer to living with dignity

Even as the Supreme Court has begun hearings on the legality of the decriminalisation of consensual gay sex, a report by the Centre for Health, Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET) at the Jindal Global Law School has found that the 2009 Delhi High Court judgment has significantly enhanced the social acceptance and self-esteem of Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders and Queers (LGBTQ).

The High Court's landmark decision of revoking the archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code has led to a gradual but steady acceptance of sexual minorities by society, concludes the study. This shows that attitudes can be moulded and mindsets transformed by even subtle but progressive changes in the law. Ensuring greater self-confidence for the community, it has already brought them one step closer to living with dignity, states the report.

‘Unnatural sex'

The apex court, on Wednesday, began the hearings on a bunch of petitions challenging the High Court judgment in the case between the Naz Foundation and the Union of India. Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhayaasked a petitioner, “So, who is the expert to say what is ‘unnatural sex'? The meaning of the word has never been constant. We have travelled a distance of 60 years. Now it is test-tube babies, surrogate mothers. They are called discoveries. Is it in the order of nature? Is there carnal intercourse?”

“There is a difference. There is a lot of change. Now we feel braver and can speak up for our rights, even against police. We are not scared of police like before,” said a respondent.

Some respondents said they could now argue with the police since they knew Section 377 was not there in the law books any more. Though most respondents felt more emotionally secure and positive, there are mixed responses as far as police harassment is concerned. While some felt harassment had substantially reduced among MSM (men who have sex with men) outreach workers, they pointed out that it had only to some extent reduced amongst Hijras and Kothis.

A programme coordinator with an NGO was not optimistic about any change following the judgment. He said, “After the judgment, police harassment has not reduced much. Four-five months ago, my friend and I were in his car. We were not doing anything. The police came and started knocking on the door of the car because the car had been parked on the side. They accused us of having sex.” However, on a more optimistic note another respondent stated, “Police do not trouble me as much after the judgment as they did earlier. The media supports us.” All in all, it was found that though police harassment had reduced significantly in certain areas of Delhi, in other areas it continues unabated.

Wide media coverage of the Naz Foundation judgment and the queer pride march and movies like Dostana have also helped in changing societal perception of homosexuals, according to some respondents. People are treating them with respect and there has been a change in thinking also, said one.

As far as familial acceptance is concerned, the judgment seems to have made little or no impact. Most respondents from the community said they would still not disclose their identities to their families and some others who had in the past were discriminated against.

“Laws needed” One of them said, “I cannot even go home as my sister has to get married. I feel that there should be an environment in which we can live more openly. Parents play a huge role in discriminating. Even they tease. Why should I be blamed because I do not get attracted to girls? There has to be anti-discrimination laws to protect us and then families will be more accepting.”

“Studies in the past in countries like Australia and South Africa have observed that jurisdiction with anti-sodomy laws have seen lower self-esteem amongst homosexuals, while jurisdiction with decriminalisation of homosexuality has observed greater self-acceptance and confidence. This was confirmed through the interviews,” said lead author of the study, Professor Dipika Jain, a Harvard law graduate and Assistant Professor at CHLET.

HC verdict on gay sex has helped LGBT



New Delhi, Feb 20, 2012, PTI:

There has been greater societal acceptance and decrease in police harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community after the Delhi High Court's landmark verdict of banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, said a study.

The research conducted over a period of six months, by Haryana-based Jindal Global Law School has found that decriminalisation of gay sex led to "increased self- confidence" of LGBT members and there has been a positive impact of the verdict.

"There is a growing societal acceptance for gay, MSM and kothi men in the mainstream society.

“Many respondents (LGBT members) stated that the societal perception of homosexuals is changing and people were treating them with respect," said another report from the study.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition filed by anti-gay rights groups challenging the Delhi High Courts’s verdict. Therefore the study holds significance.

Earlier gay sex was an offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punishable up to life imprisonment. The Delhi High Court decriminalised the act among consenting adults done in private.

The study reveals that police harassment has substantially reduced among MSM outreach workers, the report said. Mainstream and social media and movies have also played a vital part in making LGBT acceptable.

The study began in February 2011 and comprised face to face interviews with 32 members of the LGBT community. A copy of preliminary interviews was filed as a part of the intervention by the legal academics in the Supreme Court, said Professor Dipika Jain, author of the study.

Kavya Kommareddy, a student researcher with the team said, "It is heartening to see the law having a real impact on the people by giving them self-confidence, a sense of empowerment and courage to fight for their rights".

ZEE NEWS.COM

http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/sex-and-relationships/hc-verdict-on-gay-sex-results-societal-acceptance-lgbt_106256.htm



Monday, February 20, 2012, 16:36 New Delhi: There has been greater societal acceptance and decrease in police harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community after the Delhi High Court`s landmark verdict of banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a report said.

The research by Haryana-based Jindal Global Law School has found that the High Court`s judgement passed in July 2009 on decriminalisation of gay sex led to "increased self- confidence" of LGBT members and there has been a positive impact of the verdict.

"There is a growing societal acceptance for Gay, MSM and Kothi men. Many respondents (LGBT members) stated that the societal perception of homosexuals is changing and people were treating them with respect," said the report of a research team from the Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET) at the law school.

The study, first of its kind after the High Court`s verdict, assumes significance as the Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petition filed by anti-gay rights groups challenging High Court`s verdict of legalising gay sex.

Gay sex was earlier a offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punishable upto life imprisonment but the High Court decriminalised the act among consenting adults done in private.

"It is evident from the study that decriminalization of section 377 has led to increased self-confidence and self-acceptance amongst the respondents. Some respondents also reported that they could now argue with the police since they know there is no section 377 in the law books any more," the report said.

"The study reveals that police harassment has substantially reduced among MSM outreach workers," the report said, adding that media and movies also played a vital part in making LGBT acceptable to mainstream society.

A statement released by the law school said the study was conducted for over a period of six months from February to October 2011 comprising face to face interviews with 32 members of the LGBT community.

Professor C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of O P Jindal University noted that, "The study points towards the positive impact that the high court judgement has had through a first-hand account of those impacted directly through an empirical evaluation of the people who are affected by the judgement."

The author of the study, professor Dipika Jain of the law school, said, "It is evident from the study that there has been a positive impact on the LGBT community in Delhi and a country wide decriminalisation is bound to positively impact the lives of this community and their right to live with dignity."

The statement said that a copy of preliminary interviews was filed as a part of the intervention by the legal academics in the Supreme Court.

Kavya Kommareddy, a student researcher with the team said, "It is heartening to see the law having a real impact on the people by giving them self-confidence and a sense of empowerment and courage to fight for their rights". - See more at:http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/sex-and-relationships/hc-verdict-on-gay-sex-results-societal-acceptance-lgbt_106256.htm#sthash.9w1tH9vH.dpuf

INDIAN EXPRESS.COM



Greater acceptance of gay sex in India: Survey

By Agencies | Posted: New Delhi, Mon Feb 20 2012, 16:54 hrs

- See more at: http://screen.indianexpress.com/news/greater-acceptance-of-gay-sex-in-india-survey/914424/0#sthash.B0Aomet8.dpuf

New Delhi: There has been greater societal acceptance and decrease in police harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community after the Delhi High Court's landmark verdict of banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a report said.

The research by Haryana-based Jindal Global Law School has found that the High Court's judgement passed in July 2009 on decriminalisation of gay sex led to "increased self- confidence" of LGBT members and there has been a positive impact of the verdict. "There is a growing societal acceptance for Gay, MSM and Kothi men. Many respondents (LGBT members) stated that the societal perception of homosexuals is changing and people were treating them with respect," said the report of a research team from the Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET) at the law school.

The study, first of its kind after the High Court's verdict, assumes significance as the Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petition filed by anti-gay rights groups challenging High Court's verdict of legalising gay sex.

Gay sex was earlier a offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code punishable up to life imprisonment but the High Court decriminalised the act among consenting adults done in private. "It is evident from the study that decriminalization of section 377 has led to increased self-confidence and self-acceptance amongst the respondents. Some respondents also reported that they could now argue with the police since they know there is no section 377 in the law books any more," the report said.

"The study reveals that police harassment has substantially reduced among MSM outreach workers," the report said, adding that media and movies also played a vital part in making LGBT acceptable to mainstream society.

A statement released by the law school said the study was conducted for over a period of six months from February to October 2011 comprising face to face interviews with 32 members of the LGBT community.

Professor C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of O P Jindal University noted that, "The study points towards the positive impact that the high court judgement has had through a first-hand account of those impacted directly through an empirical evaluation of the people who are affected by the judgement."

The author of the study, professor Dipika Jain of the law school, said, "It is evident from the study that there has been a positive impact on the LGBT community in Delhi and a country wide decriminalisation is bound to positively impact the lives of this community and their right to live with dignity."

The statement said that a copy of preliminary interviews was filed as a part of the intervention by the legal academics in the Supreme Court.

Kavya Kommareddy, a student researcher with the team said, "It is heartening to see the law having a real impact on the people by giving them self-confidence and a sense of empowerment and courage to fight for their rights".

See more at: http://screen.indianexpress.com/news/greater-acceptance-of-gay-sex-in-india-survey/914424/0#sthash.B0Aomet8.dpuf

February 22, 2013 CHOICES BEYOND REACH

Aarti Dhar H

Rights denied:Most women are unaware of the range of contraception.Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

More than half the women in Haryana have never used contraceptives and only a small percentage of married women are aware of modern methods of contraception like copper T, condoms and pills, a recent survey has revealed.

Over 52 per cent of married women never received any counselling about contraception at government hospitals while those who were told about contraception, received information about copper T or sterilisation mainly in the HIV/AIDS counselling rooms of hospitals.

A study on ‘Need for Deeper Understanding of the States Obligation to ensure the Right to Contraceptive Services and Information’ conducted by The Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology, Jindal Global Law School, has revealed the Haryana government’s policy-push for sterilisation, over temporary spacing methods and emphasise on population control over a rights-based approach. The range of contraceptive services and information available to women is limited as ASHA workers are unavailable and inaccessible in some villages which is largely due to the hostile conditions in which they work. The pharmacies sell contraceptives which are past the expiration date and women face incredible social and cultural barriers to contraception, the study says.

The findings from the multi-stakeholder analysis and human rights assessment demonstrate that women in Haryana are unable to enjoy their basic right to contraceptive services and information, which precludes them from realising their other rights, including right to health, right to life, right to reproductive self-determination, right to equality and non-discrimination among others.

During their conversations with 168 married women, aged between 18 and 60 years, in five districts of Haryana, it was revealed that 45 per cent did not know about diaphragms or female condoms while only 11.3 per cent knew of copper T, 9.5 per cent of condoms and 2 per cent of oral pills.

Over 47 per cent said they were aware of sterilisation camps, 17 per cent said they had visited sterilisation camps or accessed sterilisation facilities in government or private hospitals. A few women also said that they underwent sterilisation procedures because their husbands would not use condoms.

While there were misconceptions about reversible contraceptive methods that made women sceptical about using these, several women also reported that they did not use contraception immediately after she got married and avoided using it until she had a son.

The interviews revealed that women in Haryana face palpable social and cultural barriers to contraceptive services and information. Women were extremely reticent to discuss the topic and to purchase contraceptives. When unmarried women were spoken to, 91 per cent of them said that they felt social and cultural barriers to contraception. Some of these women said that they did not feel they could talk about contraception because of the fear of discrimination and stigma that could result.

Among the unmarried women, 86 per cent of girls were unaware of the range of contraception, but 54 per cent knew about sterilisation with 72 per cent knowing about the government’s free condom scheme.

More shockingly, 94.6 per cent said they had never visited a health consultancy before pregnancy and approximately 66 per cent never met with an ASHA worker. Among those who had sought health care, close to 60 per cent said they preferred to visit a private hospital.

Of the 91 pharmacies surveyed by the researchers, almost all had condoms and birth control pills but most did not carry injectables or female condoms. Seventy five per cent of the pharmacies said that women did not buy contraceptives from their shop and had never seen a woman purchase a contraceptive in the last 10 years, while some said women did come to purchase pills.

“A review of Haryana’s policies demonstrates that many of Haryana’s family policy strategies are dissonant with target-free approach of the National Population Policy. One of the main findings of our report is that although several State policies encourage temporary and spacing methods, the push is largely towards sterilisation,” Prof Dipika Jain, Executive Director of CHLET and lead author of the survey said.

Women in Haryana face palpable social and cultural barriers to contraceptive services and information, reveals a study

Press Trust of India | New Delhi February 20, 2013 Last Updated at 00:00 IST



Haryana is focusing only on population control-based approach of pushing people towards sterilisation and women do not have proper information and access to contraceptive methods there, a study done by a law school says. The study showed that lack of proper information and access to contraceptive services have been resulting in several sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, high mortality rate. The report titled 'Voices from the field: Women's Access to Contraception in Haryana, India' was taken out by the Centre for Heath law, Ethics and Technology of Sonipat-based Jindal Global Law School, in collaboration with the Centre for Reproductive Rights at New York. Dipika Jain, author of the report and Assistant Professor and Executive Director at the Centre for Health Law in the O P Jindal Global University, said though there are several policies in Haryana which encourages temporary and spacing contraceptive methods but "largely men and women are pushed towards sterilisation". "By creating and enforcing such policies, Haryana is violating its duties and obligations under a human rights framework. There is a need for systematic reforms to move population control based approach to human rights based approach," she said at a press conference. NHRC member Satyabrata Pal, who released the report, said they have also been receiving such troubling reports from other states. Response has been sought from the states regarding the methods used for family planning there, he said. "On one hand there is lack of facilities and information of basic requirement of contraception in Haryana, on the other hand the highly developed technique of sex determination before a child's birth is easily available there," he said. C Raj Kumar, Vice-Chancellor of O P Jindal Global University, said the team has also met several MPs in Haryana to discuss as to what extent the initiatives taken in the report can be implemented. "The study reinforces importance of the constitutional right to life, health and contraceptive access to women, and the immediate need for the state to formulate and implement policies that uphold such a right. "Countries, especially like India, need to recognise that access to contraceptive services and information is of utmost importance for the empowerment of women and realisation of their rights," he said.

M A I N N E W S Haryana pushing sterilisations to meet family planning targets



Aditi Tandon/TNS New Delhi, February 24

Despite the National Population Policy advocating a target-free approach, Haryana continues to practise family planning policies that involve setting of targets and undue dependence on sterilisations as the primary form of contraception. A new survey on access to contraceptives paints a dismal picture of the state with 57.7 per cent women saying that they have never used contraception and close to half saying that they have never heard of non-permanent methods of contraception. Findings further reveal that the state has been pushing permanent methods of sterilisation to reach the total fertility rate target of 2.1 (number of children in the reproductive lifespan of a woman). Haryana conducted 273 non-scalpel vasectomy camps (male sterilisations) as against a target of 336 camps in 2010. It held 892 tubectomy camps against the target of 1,092 for the year. “In the new initiatives, the state is using to control population include vasectomy and tubectomy camps. Hundreds of camps are being held in government settings while access to reversible contraceptives is lacking,” says Dipika Jain of the Centre for Health law, Ethics and Technology, OP Jindal Law University, which has piloted the research. Haryana also keeps a dedicated sterilisation budget under which Rs 600 is given as incentive to persons of SC/ST and BPL categories who opt for tubectomy. General category women get Rs 250 per head for sterilisation. “The practice of incentivising sterilisations is robbing women of the chance to opt for non-permanent contraception methods such as diaphragms, oral contraceptive pills, condoms and emergency contraception. That is in violation of the National Population Policy which talks of complete contraceptive information for women to choose from,” researcher Natassia Rozario told TNS. In the field surveys at Kurukshetra, Panipat, Sonepat, Kaithal and Mewat, 45.2 per cent married women said they had never heard of diaphragms (barrier method which covers the cervix preventing the sperm from fertilising an egg) or female condoms; only 11.3 per cent had heard of copper T; 9.5 per cent of condoms and 2 per cent of pills. A whopping 89 per cent unmarried girls said they didn’t know of the full range of contraceptives available while 54 per cent said they knew about sterilisations. The survey has thrown up an important finding which has national implications - ASHA workers (for every village of 1,000 persons, one ASHA worker is posted under the National Rural Health Mission) informed women only about sterilisations because the NRHM incentivises them for such a task. The NRHM doesn’t pay ASHAs a fixed salary it pays them on incentive basis - Rs 150 to motivate women for tubectomy; Rs 250 for motivation for vasectomy.

GLS’ Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology releases report on ‘Access to Contraceptive Services and Information in the State of Haryana’

Shreyas Gupta Feb 25, 2013

On February 20, 2013, at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, Satyabrata Pal, Member, National Human Rights Commission, released a report of a Research Study on “Voices from the Field: Access to Contraceptive Services and Information in the State of Haryana”.

The study was undertaken by the Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET) at Jindal Global Law School. This study presents findings from a multi-stakeholder analysis and includes human rights assessment of the various economic, social, and cultural barriers that impede women in Haryana from realizing their Fundamental Right to Access Contraceptive Services and Information. Two hundred and eighty eight women were interviewed in five districts of Haryana, in addition to the interviews of ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, healthcare workers and pharmacies.

One of the ASHA workers, voicing her concerns on the non-availability of comprehensive information on the full range of contraceptive methods, said, “We are stuck between the government and the villagers. We cannot provide them with proper care due to lack of training and the government does not provide us with training. There is no motivation to work in this field. I will quit if I do not get proper pay soon.”

Research carried out under the study further revealed that the pharmacies sell contraceptives which are past the expiration date and women do not have access to adequate sexual and reproductive health education and information and that they face incredible social and cultural barriers to contraception.

CHLET’s research study’s report concludes with some broad recommendations, which include: 1) the creation and implementation of family planning policies that provide comprehensive information on the full range of contraceptive methods, rather than singularly pushing for sterilization, and to focus on providing the information and means to enable people to make informed reproductive health related decisions; 2) ensure that a full range of contraceptive methods, which include female condoms and diaphragms, are made accessible and available to women; 3) improve the quality of contraceptive services and information, by training health workers and ASHA workers and by ensuring that contraceptives are not sold past the expiration; and 4) provide sexual and reproductive health information to women and young girls.

Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, “The study reinforces the importance of the constitutional right to life, health and contraceptive access by women, and the immediate need for the State to formulate and implement policies that uphold such a right. Countries, especially India, need to recognize that access to contraceptive services and information is of utmost importance for the empowerment of women and realization of their rights, autonomy and human dignity.

Prof. Dipika Jain, Executive Director of the Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Technology at Jindal Global Law School, author of the study said, “A review of Haryana’s policies demonstrates that many of Haryana’s family policy strategies are dissonant with the target-free approach of the National Population Policy. One of the main findings of our report is that although several of Haryana’s policies encourage temporary and spacing methods, the push is largely towards sterilization. By creating and enforcing such policies, Haryana is violating its duties and obligations under a human rights framework. There is a need for systematic reforms to move from population control based approach to human rights based approach and create an enabling environment access to contraceptive services and information.”