Exhibition focuses on violation of reproductive rights
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Last Updated: Sunday, May 23, 2010, 18:06
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.


First Published: Sunday, May 23, 2010, 18:06

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