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#Sexploration Episode 7 Reproductive Health, Education and Rights in Nepal
In Nepal, there is a number of activism going on to focus on the sexual and reproductive health, rights and education. However, the sexual health knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of people among both educated and uneducated as well as in urban and rural area seems to be narrow. Many people and women do not know that reproductive health rights and education come under their fundamental rights. Nepali society has a deep rooted traditional norms and beliefs relating to sex and sexuality. These issues are rarely discussed within the family environment. Young people who have adequate access/ medium to gather appropriate information and services about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues do not make effort. Little sex education is offered in schools and SRH are topics not openly discussed in families.
Nepal is a traditional patriarchal society which is dawdling in terms of developing more open attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health. Girls and women are more vulnerable because they have less access to formal institutional structures such as schools and healthcare systems. Similarly, boys are unlikely to be incorporated into or receive accurate information through informal or formal communication networks. In this concern, the seventh episode of the podcast ‘Sexploration’ titled ‘Reproductive Education and Rights’ discusses about Reproductive & Sexual education in Urban and Rural Nepal and how Sexual education is linked to Reproductive behavior. The episode is divided into two parts where the guests, Kanchan Gautam and Prapoosa KC share their stories from personal experiences based on the flow of the conversation.
“Reproductive health has many domains such as safe motherhood, family planning, prevention from STD, Treatment of Infertility, Infant and child health care, from conception to childbirth, how to care for women, about Female Autonomy, and knowledge about their own body. In both rural and urban contexts, they do not have much awareness. People have very little knowledge which is dangerous,” says Kanchan Gautam, a Technical Officer at MNCH FP (Maternal neonatal child health and family planning). In terms of reproductive health and rights decision making, a woman does not have consent. For instance, while talking about which contraceptive device to use, it is imposed upon them rather than letting them decide. Women cannot choose by herself about the child delivery- either home based or institutional delivery.
“In urban areas, people start speaking up about reproductive health and rights only after any issue is raised. But in rural areas, people have a hard time fulfilling their basic needs. So, they do not focus much on this topic. Even though the International organizations are holding campaigns to make people aware, that is not enough yet.” added Gautam. Due to lack of awareness, many complications occur such as hypertension in pregnancy, PPH (Postpartum hemorrhage)-heavy bleeding after child birth. Additionally there is no sex education. So, this causes STDs, transmit HIV, unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, practice of sex selective abortion practice of pesticide and insecticides which causes adverse affects in female’s health. Reproductive health should be connected with menstruation, before pregnancy, while pregnancy and after pregnancy to make it wholesome.
“The Constitution of Nepal guarantees rights to women as a fundamental right, reaffirms the right to safe motherhood and reproductive health, education rights. It is government’s responsibility to provide these fundamental rights, if your right is violated related to it, you can directly go to Supreme Court in case you do not have any other legal recourse,” says KC, a human rights and SRHR advocate, human rights lawyer and a teacher in Kathmandu School of Law (teaches legal research). In the matter of SRH rights and education, it is also important how we are accessing it and how much interest we give upon it. In urban areas, people’s consciousness is missing in the country and we only blame the education system. We do not use the medium which is easily accessible to us. For example, Gen Z has technology from which they can surf for required information but they are inactive.
“In our county, the education system is so divided. In recent social studies books there has been mentioned about contraceptive devices and their photos with definitions but still teachers blatantly skip the chapters. In a Nepali family, mothers do not sit down and talk about sex education, nor contraceptive device. The idea is unless you are married, you are not allowed to have sex. So, you don’t talk about it, those who give such basic knowledge to youths or their children are not fulfilling their duties in either informal or formal education,” adds KC. “Teachers should also be well-trained,” says Gautam. Apart from that, in rural areas, people don’t have the means to access this kind of information. KC states, “Responsiveness is not just among the rural or urban communities. It is basic to study about health related education and laws in EPH or another separate course just as you have to read about social issues in social studies.”
“Legal system is also not accessible at all, is not victim friendly, not adolescent friendly nor disabled friendly,” says KC. It has been mentioned in the act that every woman has the right to get free primary level health service, women should not be forced to use the contraceptive device, do have the right to decide the number of children they want or in which interval, etc but the reality is not the same. Abortion is considered a criminal offense in the act of 2018, when done after 28 weeks of pregnancy, even if it causes health hazards to mother and the child. She adds, “There has not been effective implementation. The lawmakers are not looking at societal structure, patriarchy, there is contradiction in basic law of the country and lawmakers do not examine the social issues.”
Overall, the podcast highlights on the importance of including basic knowledge regarding the spectrums of Reproductive Health such as legal frameworks, comprehensive sex education, family planning, safe motherhood, (before childbirth, while childbirth and after childbirth), spacing between two child, Intimate Partner Violence, emergency objective care, infertility, sub fertility prevention and treatment, setting up boundaries with partners, idea of consent, safer sex- prevention of HIV Aids, STDs/STI prevention of reproductive cancer and treatment, sexual orientation, sexual identity, infant and child health care, safe abortion, should be included in the curriculum in primary and secondary level education to bring about behavioral changes in the optimal sexual and reproductive health.
Video Link (Part 1):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_E4tKJXOKU
Video Link(Part 2):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gtt1tVy7NM
- by Samiksha Shrestha