Author: Ranjani K. Murthy, May 25 2017 - Sexual and reproductive health refers to a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease, in all matters relating to the sexuality and reproductive system/ processes. Reproductive and sexual rights pertain to right to make informed decisions concerning reproduction, relations/marriage and sexuality free of discrimination, coercion and violence.  

A review of SDGs suggests that targets on universal access to SRHR (within SDG 3 and SDG 5), eliminating violence against women and girls in public and private spheres,  eliminate harmful practices such as early and forced marriages,  reducing maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births (SDG 3) and achieving internationally agreed targets to address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women (SDG 2) have been included. 

The indicators pertaining to SRHR in SDGs are more comprehensive than MDGs and cover prevalence of  violence against women and girls in public and private domain, percentage of women and girls subject to harmful practices, adolescent birth rate, access to family planning, antenatal, safe delivery and post natal care, proportion of women reporting making decisions on sexual and reproductive health, percentage of pregnant women reporting access to social protection floors,  HIV prevalence and new infection rates across sex and percentage of population with access to basic needs like water and sanitation.

Yet controversial issues like access to safe abortion services, usage of health services to eliminate female fetus, and inadequate sexual and reproductive health services for single women and transwomen are  not included. Neither are expensive issues like access to cancer screening or treatment for reproductive cancer. Further, the effect of new kinds of employment (night shifts in Business Process Outsourcing centers) on sexual and reproductive health & rights is also ignored.  Land/resource-grab by state-corporate interests and its implications for sexual and reproductive health and rights is not recognized, like violence against protesting women affecting their SRHR, loss of medicinal herbs which women use  for sexual and reproductive health and exploitation of women who have slipped into poverty with land/resource loss. At times race, caste, class, abilities, sexual orientation and gender identity, etc., affect different women in different ways.  Finally affordability of sexual and reproductive health care in the era of privatisation is an issue within which SDGs have to be looked at.  Some of the private health insurance companies do not cover delivery or access to safe abortion. 


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