Activity Report – III (1 April 2014 – 31 March 2015) | Socio Legal Information Centre, New Delhi, India
SLIC lawyers achieved remarkable impacts during this final year of Scaling Up the Legal Initiative in India for Reducing Maternal Mortality and Advancing Young People’s Reproductive Health and Rights. From filing cases for individual women to tackling immense maternal health issues like child marriage and quality of care, SLIC teams and partners throughout India work tirelessly to ensure the Government of India protects, respects, and promotes women’s reproductive rights.
Our work focuses on closing the gap between government promises and obligations and realities on the ground. To that end, SLIC conducted 15 fact-findings in 13 states documenting poor access to contraceptives, inadequate implementation of schemes, guidelines, and laws, maternal deaths, and failures to implement existing court orders. These fact-findings resulted in three new legal petitions this project period and will contribute to an additional nine new petitions in the next several months. These factfindings supported on-going Supreme Court and High Court litigation, spurring strong orders on unsafe and unethical sterilization, massive overhauls to a District Hospital, and increased accountability for poor implementation and spending under government schemes.
Lawyers throughout India filed 13 new Public Interest Litigations (PILs) and individual cases this period on diverse maternal health issues ranging from child marriage to services for homeless women to maternity leave to access to safe abortion services. While many of these petitions are only months old, they have generated substantial results: a Legal Service Authority investigation into homeless shelters in Patna, remarkable improvements in five tribal villages of Madhya Pradesh, compensation for victims of contaminated drinking water, and an investigation into delivery care in New Delhi. In every case, the very fact that the State and Centre Governments have to reply to our petitions shows that courts now take reproductive rights cases seriously and therefore demand answers.
Throughout SLIC’s collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, we have argued over 100 reproductive rights cases in almost every High Court in India. Today, our Reproductive Rights and the Law Initiative has 50 pending cases. This period, we achieved important results in 16 on-going cases from previous years, a substantial success in India’s overburdened judicial system. Our cases resulted in sweeping improvements on tea estates in Assam, deep investigations into sterilization camps and the law against sex determination, massive improvements in quality of care in Nagpur, Maharashtra, new facilities in Sikkim, a new Anganwadi Centre for a slum community in Delhi, compensation for a maternal death, an investigation into Haryana’s family planning programs, and increased implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in Jharkhand.
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