Report on the Two-Day Webinar on Access to Reproductive Justice

This webinar not only concentrates on saying how gloomy and difficult the situation is and the new deprivations women are facing due to the outbreak but will also focus on a way forward. He spoke of the hardships the women are facing due to the lockdown: Women are giving birth on the roads, pregnant women walking 1000 of miles to reach their home state. The state is just a mere spectator to these extreme levels of brutality. The simple solution was to just provide trucks. He was disappointed at the conditions of the Hospitals: Health care system collapsed, decline in health services, the public hospitals stopped admitting people and converted their wards for COVID affected patients. The other upsetting aspect was the absolute collapse of the Public Distribution System especially the food distribution system collapsed. Anganwadi centres and mid-day meals services stopped. The thousands of migrant workers would not have to leave if the PDS system had functioned properly.

Through the point of view of Public Interest Litigation, the courts have also failed in recognizing and fending for the people. The courts have primarily been unresponsive. The High Courts of Karnataka and Kerala has been exceptionally good, mostly the courts have been disappointing. The high Courts of Delhi and Mumbai were not very good in giving orders. So, when it comes to women’s rights, Courts have been mostly numb, so recognition and achieving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights is going to be a tough struggle.

HRLN has been an advocate of reproductive rights since a long time. After a long-drawn struggle, we have reached somewhere with regards to SRHR. HRLN has done about 100- 120 cases for the courts to amend the MTP Act and increase the cap from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. We are nowhere near to absolute right of women for terminating of pregnancies. Similar is the case for forced sterilization, hysterectomies and child marriage, it is difficult to convince courts to rule in favour and get it implemented.