The reasons behind violation of sexual and reproductive rights of women are often deeply engrained in societal values and traditions. Comment.

Woman’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are often neglected to secondary positions in Indian traditional values.

Reasons:

  • Taboos on decision on menstrual hygiene and superstitions associated with it.
  • Early marriage and child marriage leading to childbirth occurring when girl is not in full sexual maturity.
  • Reluctance on sexual education in traditional circles.
  • Reluctance on contraceptives use.
  • Practice of female genital mutilation in certain communities.
  • Patriarchal notions on marriage – wife becomes the “property” of husband, this notion perpetuates marital rape.
  • Taboo on breastfeeding in public.

Way forward:

  • Increasing awareness on women’s rights including sexual rights.
  • Provision of sex education in schools.
  • Concerted efforts towards prevention of child marriage.
  • Criminalisation of marital rape and genital mutilation.
  • Increased access to menstrual hygiene products.

Government interventions:

  • Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram, RMNCH+A, focus on adolescents and sexual health.
  • SUVIDHA sanitary napkins at low cost.
  • MAA programme to promote breastfeeding.
  • Awareness programmes on menstrual & reproductive health and contraceptives.

Health of women, including sexual health is the key to ensuring all-round development in a holistic manner.

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