A Body of My Own

The feminist historian Gerda Lerner has written in her book “The Creation of Patriarchy” that in the neolithic age in tribal wars the winners used to take the women captive and then make them pregnant as this was an easy way to add to the labour force given the low life expectancy at that time and the difficulty of keeping men as prisoners due to the low level of technology. Thus, began the control by men of women’s bodies which continues to this day as even in marriage a majority of women have to subject themselves to the sexual whims and fancies of men and produce children in large numbers. This adversely affects the reproductive health of women and in the absence of cheap and quality safe motherhood and gynaecological services women suffer silently. I say this from the experience of two decades of work for the reproductive and sexual health and rights of poor women in rural and urban slum communities. Even though my work has resulted in some relief for the women I have worked with, in the absence of a strong policy framework for the prevention of sexual violence within the home and the provision of cheap quality diagnostic and treatment in reproductive and sexual health for poor women. Therefore my recommendations are – 1. Sexual violence within the home should be expressly banned and women should be facilitated to assert control of their own bodies. 2. Cheap and quality reproductive and sexual health services should be mandatorily provided to women. ————————————————————————————————————————————————- In partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), World Pulse is collecting personal stories outlining women’s experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development for presentation at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. All stories submitted on our community platform between now and June 3, 2012 will be presented at the Rio+20 Conference. Additionally, selected entries will be published in World Pulse’s digital magazine and distributed widely to international media partners.

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