Published: 13th July 2017
From talking about sexual health to visiting gynaecologists, this NGO helps women fight for health over stigma
The NGO is based Delhi and helps women understand everything about sexual and reproductive health services without fear or stigma
Shame, fear, embarrassment and isolation is what the unmarried women face in India if they have to access basic sexual health services. There is no doubt that there is a stigma around premarital sex in our country.
A group of young women from Delhi have started a petition asking Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) to send a directive to all its members to protect sexual health rights of unmarried women in India. FOGSI is the organisation that represents 223 member societies and over 29,310 individual gynaecologists and obstetricians spread across the country.
These women who are working in association with NGO Haiyya which has put out a set of ten commandments and are reaching out to gynaecologists in Delhi to take an undertaking to sign these. From patient confidentiality to taking calls on abortion, their commandments seek to address a range of issues.
“We are a group of young women and we believe that everyone regardless of whether they’re married or not, whether they’re sexually active or not, is entitled to safe medical services,” reads their petition online.
Mrinalini Dayal, campaign manager at Haiyya said that this was an attempt to ensure that women can reach out to gynaecologists with their issues without having a stigma.
Fight right: They aim to create a safe haven for women to approach sexual health services
“In our country, there is so much shame about unmarried women talking about sexuality. A lot of women are affected by issues. Women who are 31 also face stigma when they have to talk about sexual health if they are unmarried,” she said.
Through their campaign, Health Over Stigma they educate women about sexual health. So far, they have engaged with over 500 women in Delhi and have encouraged them to share their experience. “We ask them what they have experienced when they visited a gynaecologist. Or if someone had a good experience, we ask them what did doctor do to make them feel better? We involve in discussions with women from across age groups,” she added.
Among a few commandments as mentioned in the online petition on change.org ‘Directive To All Member Doctors To Protect Sexual Health Rights of Unmarried Women’ are “Respecting your confidentiality and not revealing your information even if your parents or partner demands so. Treating you as an independent adult without asking for permission/involvement of parents or guardians. Not asking intrusive personal questions unless they are directly linked to a diagnosis and being transparent in explaining why.”
They also seek that gynaecologists adopt certain phrases and words being more sensitive to women. “Not asking if you’re married but instead if you’re sexually active” is one example they site.