Just Not Acceptable: India Tragedy Showcases Grave Violation of Women’s Health and Rights

Women Deliver is deeply appalled by yesterday’s reports of the deaths and injuries sustained by women undergoing sterilization in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. It is still unclear whether the reason for the deaths were unsafe conditions and incorrect procedures, or contaminated antibiotics or other tainted drugs.

Whatever the reason, the tragedy showcases yet another grueling example of things gone wrong and poor women paying the price.

As advocates of sexual and reproductive health and rights, we want to underscore that it is a human right for women to decide freely – and for themselves – if, when, and how many children to have, free of coercion, discrimination and without any form of economic incentives. They also have the right to quality services, quality contraceptive methods, as well as safety from fake, counterfeit or poor quality drugs.

It is the responsibility of governments, the private sector and regulatory bodies to ensure this and the safety of citizens and consumers.

Women’s health and rights must be protected, and Women Deliver calls for thorough investigations of what has happened in India, for all those implicated to be held accountable and for the government to make sure that it does not happen again.

As we continue to share solutions and drive progress in maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights, we stand with the women of India – and all over the world – to demand that every government, producer, and donor take action to guarantee access to safe, high-quality, and human rights-based health care, including family planning, medicines and services.

To prevent more tragedies as the one we've seen unfold in India, it is also imperative that we continue to push for the prioritization of and specific targets for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the new global Sustainable Development Framework being negotiated right now.

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