160209 Policy and Politics of Reproductive and Sexual Health in Pakistan

Monday, November 5, 2007

Rushna Ravji, MD, MPH, MS , Office of Population and Reproductive Health, USAID, Washington DC, DC
Anwer Aqil, MD, MPH, DrPH , John Snow Inc., Arlington, VA
Few years back, a sixteen year old girl in a Pakistani village died due to pelvic infection, using dirty clothes as sanitary napkins. She could not tell her mother of her problem because of shame and fear, reflecting discussion on the reproductive and sexual health as taboo. Many misperceptions about gender relationship perpetuate sexual and domestic violence. Unsafe abortion is common by traditional birth attendants but is illegal for health providers. Women bear the major burden of diseases due to segregation, little autonomy, male preferential behaviors, and limited access to health care. The alternative sexual practices are criminalized. This paper provides evidence that reproductive and sexual practices are the results of the social structures and norms and health providers are not immune to them. The policy makers are reluctant to include sexual health or abortion as part of the reproductive health package and consider the right to choose a marriage partner or practice sexual preference outside the health domain. Conservative forces inhibited the Pakistan Government to sign ICPD 1994 Declaration. Method: The evidence comes from surveys and government records. Policy Implications: The debate on reproductive and sexual health issues and rights involves health professionals, policy makers and other political forces. To create an enabling environment where women and men can enjoy their reproductive rights and health, a broad coalition of progressive political forces, public health advocacy groups, women and community organizations is needed. Without creating supportive social structure, norms and values, the reproductive health services will remain limited and underutilized.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, the participant will be able to: • Assess the role of structural, social, cultural factors on formulating policy on reproductive and sexual rights and health • Discuss strategies to change women’s status, and access to quality reproductive health services

Keywords: Reproductive Health, Sexuality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.