You are 30! Get married soon or you will have issues in having a baby.”
“Don’t get an abortion or you wont be able to have a child in future.” “Your child is 3 years old now, are you not planning another baby?”
“Don’t go for an abortion, you can definitely raise another child.”
“How can you have a baby? You aren’t……”
And so we hear every day. Every day … in conversations at homes, offices, parties and even with our doctors.
Why no child, why one child? Why three children? Why abortion? Why a caesarean? Why adoption? And the list can be unending.
And here’s how an amazing capability, a right, a matter of joy and pride becomes an issue of stress, judgment, shame and often risk.
Right from the time of the first period, there are expectations that envelop our reproductive choices. There is pressure to get married at a certain age or to have a baby “on time” and then to have the “right” number of children. And if you are unmarried, your reproductive choices are further scrutinized and deemed to be “limited”.
How can anyone then enjoy their reproductive rights? We can truly enjoy any right, when we have the freedom to make and exercise our own choices.
So, to celebrate reproductive rights and the choices and the freedom that must come with it, Love Matters India and Haiyya came together to celebrate Jashne-e-Reproductive Rights – a mela to both increase awareness and celebrate reproductive rights and choices for all!
The fest took place on September 28, 2019 at the Crafts Museum, Delhi, India.The day is also globally observed as the International Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.
The objective of the event was to increase awareness about abortion as a reproductive health and rights issue, and to demand that every person who chooses to have an abortion is guaranteed access to available, affordable, safe and legal comprehensive abortion care.
Dr. Surbhi Singh, a senior gynaecologist from New Delhi inaugurated the event by talking about how important it is for a woman to know about abortion. “Don’t elongate it. First time when you miss your period, go to the doctor. Safe Abortion is very important,” she said, in her welcome note at the event.
To ensure that this message reaches out to more people this year, Love Matters India and Haiyya partnered up, in solidarity and with a shared vision and goal, to organize this exciting day!
LM and Haiyya enabled a safe, shared and inclusive space for people from diverse walks of life to gain information and develop nuanced understanding on reproductive rights issues, including about safe abortion, through the medium of engaging, interactive, and fun activities.
The intention and motivation of the fest was to acknowledge, affirm, celebrate and gather support for reproductive rights and choices of all persons.
The fest entailed the following activities:
- Informative open sessions on talking and writing about abortion (and sexual and reproductive health and rights issues from a rights-based perspective)
- Abortion speakout spaces to hear abortion experiences of those who have had abortion(s), those who have supported someone who has had abortion(s), and those who have provided abortion care, as well as using range of performance art to increase awareness and celebrate reproductive rights — spoken word poetry, music, street theater, art and painting, puppetry, etc.
- The fest also showcased fun interactive games that tackle myths around abortion and showcase short film and virtual reality (VR) film screening for the audience.
- Free personal consultation sessions with gynaecologists – Dr. Yukti, Dr. Ankita and Dr. Samridhi to discuss the issues, concerns and seek guidance.
- Poetry, dance, music, rap and band performances by various artists on the theme of reproductive rights.
- Several organizations working on issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) also hosted interactive stalls to share about their work. The organizations included Feminism in India (FII), TARSHI, Global Health Strategies, CREA, She Decides, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), and Kind Beings.
The fest culminated with a joint declaration/pledge for the audience to endorse to show their support for destigmatizing abortion and demanding improved comprehensive abortion care services for all persons in India.
Vithika Yadav, head of Love Matters India said, “A woman is not a womb, rather a woman has a womb. Today, we may be witnessing great scientific advances but we need to ask ourselves are we taking into consideration women’s perspectives and expectations in the services being offered to them. This includes the right to access safe and legal abortion without any shame, stigma and judgment. We were delighted to see women of all ages join us for the Reproductive Rights fest to celebrate the right to choose.”
The fest, although, open to everyone, focused on reaching out specifically to college students (of all genders), young working women from across different socio-economic status, gynecologists, support medical staff, journalism students, local government representatives, media, other NGOs/foundations/groups working on SRHR issues and based in Delhi. About 200 people attended the fest.