Renuka Chowdhury calls for meeting reproductive and sexual rights

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Hyderabad, Oct 29 (UNI) Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury today lamented that one million girl children were killed by their parents in India due to female foeticide and called for meeting reproductive and sexual rights and needs of women by making contraceptive 'available, affordable and accessible'.

Chairing the 'Plenary Session on Implementing Sexual and Reproductive Rights: An Unfinished Agenda' at the Fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSH) here, Ms Chowdhury also called for allowing women to make informed choices by providing the 3As of reproductive health care--'Availability, Affordability and Accessibility'.

Highlighting the cultural practices and social mindset, promoting child marriages and female foeticide as responsible for the skewed sex ratio in the region, she said despite these being illegal, about ten lakh girls were killed in India before they are born.

By the use of sex detection technologies, this social crime was being committed by educated parents in the developed states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

This was in addition to women and girls killed due to malnutrition, high infant mortality, dowry deaths and domestic violence, she pointed out. She also stressed the need for creating awareness against these social evils even among the educated people and empowering women by proper implementation of equal inheritance law, assets building and making credit available to them through microfinancing.

Criticising the tendency of the Indian masses of not talking about sex to their children, Ms Chowdhury said, ''About one billion people don't speak about sex. We should talk about it and verbalise it. It is a wrong notion that if you talk to children about sex, they would indulge in it. We should learn to look at our children as sexual adults and not just babies as it will help in reducing child rape and incest. We are responsible for informing children about the rights and wrongs, thereby empowering them.'' Ms Chowdhury also stressed the need for meeting geriatric sex and reproductive health needs and rights. She said future research and policies should focus on the needs pertaining to fertility issues, sperm and egg preservation of women and men getting married at a later age or those suffering from diseases like ovarian cancers. More work should be done on surrogate motherhood done by women for their daughters and other relatives and also for meeting sexual and reproductive needs of 'winter-spring marriages' depicted in films like 'Cheeni Kam', where elderly men marry younger women.

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