KATHMANDU, Aug 25: The Bill on Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights which is registered in the Federal Parliament Secretariat has made provision which bars one of the spouses from expelling or dislodging or divorcing the other citing reproductive health issue.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Upendra Yadav had recently registered the bill in the Parliament Secretariat.
One of the clause in the bill reads: 'Nobody should or cause to make other person to divorce, expel from the house or dislodge any one citing infirmity of reproductive health.'
Anyone convicted of this offence would be liable of one year imprisonment and fine of Rs 100,000.
Similarly, the bill has made provision for taking action against the health workers deliberately referring emergency delivery and neo-natal cases to another health institution despite the facility being available in one's health institution. If convicted of doing so, the person faces six months imprisonment and fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
This is probably the first time that such provision has been made in the law of the country.
Former Health Secretary Dr Kiran Regmi, who was the lead in preparing the preliminary draft of the bill, expressed the belief that the bill would be a milestone in making the obstetric and new-born services of more quality and accessible.
There is also a provision in the bill which prohibits coercive use of birth control devices and measures. Anyone convicted of this would be liable for six months imprisonment or fine Rs 50,000 or both.
Of the married women, only 53 per cent use one or the other birth control devices. The reproductive rate is 2.3 per cent.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, only 57 per cent of pregnant women deliver at health institutions.
Bill proposes maternity leave of 98 days
The bill has proposed a 98-day maternity leave. If the bill gets endorsed, women working at government, non government or private offices shall be entitled right to the maternity leave for 98 days before or after the delivery.
Moreover, additional one-month paid leave on the consultation of health professional has been proposed in a special case (if health of a woman on maternity leave becomes weak). The bill seeks the management of a (separate) lactation room for a mother of child up to two years. It may be noted that the Department of Health has already managed such facility.
The bill incorporates the safe abortion right to pregnant as per the law.
It attempts to guarantee rights of access of every woman and adolescent boy and girl to sexual and reproductive health-related education, information, counseling and services, right to access to reproductive right-related counseling and information before and after marriage, right to safe abortions and right to have nutritious food and physical rest after delivery and in condition of weak reproductive health.
The document mentions a mandatory provision, seeking the governments of all three levels to annually allocate budget and grants for safe motherhood and reproductive health programmes.
According to Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Prof Dr Pushpa Chaudhary, the bill intends to make reproductive and motherhood health services safe, standard and accessible to all the needy by guaranteeing the right to motherhood and reproductive health.