New Delhi: Fatima, a 24-year-old homeless
girl belonging to the below poverty line category, gave birth
under a tree in Nizamuddin in south Delhi after the nearby
civic health centre refused any help.
Shanti Devi, 35, was made to run from one hospital to
another with a dead foetus in her womb because no one was
ready to admit her as she could not pay the fees.
Their stories along with the horrific tales of many
Indian women and girls who have lost their lives during
pregnancy or those who continue to suffer from a pregnancy-
related illness or disability have been poignantly captured in
a series of 22 photographs now on display at the Alliance
Francaise in the national capital.
Organised by NGO Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), the
photo exhibition `Mera Haq (My Right): Surviving Pregnancy
with Dignity` is aimed at raising awareness about maternal
mortality in India and focus on how lack of proper healthcare
facilities are endangering lives of hundreds of thousands of
women from marginalised or historically vulnerable groups.
Shanti Devi was finally admitted to a hospital and
operated after a court order. She got pregnant again but died
after giving birth to a premature baby girl.
A photograph of her 11-year-old boy Deepak cradling his
newborn sister also finds a place in the exhibition, on
display till May 28.
"Our objective is to focus on the issue of maternal
health. A large number of women in Delhi too face the problem
of lack of proper medical facilities. Very few people know how
bad the situation is in the capital city of the country," HRLN
Director Colin Gonsalves said.
The HRLN, a collective of lawyers and social activists,
has filed several Public Interest Litigations in courts to
highlight the issue, Jameen Kaur, from the Reproductive Rights
Unit of the NGO, said.
"We had moved court in the cases of Fatima and Shanti
Devi. The final hearings will be held tomorrow. HRLN legal
interventions had earlier ensured that financial entitlements
and medical care were granted to Fatima, and Shanti Devi`s
death was recognised by the court as a human rights
violation," she said.
The exhibition also focuses on the dismal state of
community health centres in several parts of the country.
"Many hospitals take advantage of lack of awareness among
relatives and make them sign forms freeing them from any
responsibility in the case of death of a patient.
"Maternal mortality is not a human rights violation that
occurs in isolation, rather it is the culmination of a
multitude of rights denials faced by marginalised groups,
which is reflected in disproportionately high levels of
maternal deaths among SC/ST communities," Kaur said.