KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 27, 2009) : Asian governments have been urged to ensure women have access to basic reproductive health services by 2015.
The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow), an NGO based here, said Asia is lagging behind in terms of working towards this target set by an International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action in Cairo in1994, and called on the respective governments to exercise more political will.
This was a key finding of Arrow's latest regional report, Reclaiming and Redefining Rights – ICPD+15: Status of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Asia, which was released on Dec 24.
The report is a culmination of Arrow's 15 years of observation and showed that women from marginalised groups across Asia faced difficulties in accessing health services and exercising their "sexual and reproductive health and rights".
In an analysis of women's concerns across 12 countries, Arrow noted regional disparities, and came out with recommendations to improve maternal health conditions, including policy change based on commitment to the ICPD programme and respectful of women’s rights; ensuring access to affordable and quality sexual and reproductive health services starting from primary health care level; and improved access for adolescents, marginalised groups, and people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities.
These groups include those who are underaged, poor, less educated, isolated, from tribal groups and ethnic minorities, as well as from lower castes within a society.
Arrow identified, among others things, a lack of access to comprehensive sex and sexuality education for adolescents and lack of recognition to the concepts of marital rape and sexual harassment.
However, the report also noted some positive outcomes as a result of governments' initiatives already in practice such as safe abortion services in Vietnam and China; efforts to address reproductive cancers in Malaysia; as well as passing legislation to recognise same-sex sexual relationships and transgender in Nepal.ORIGINAL ARTICLE