KARACHI: Experts at a seminar on ‘Women’s right to life and health’ said on Tuesday that denying proper medical facilities to women, which in many cases resulted in abortions or maternal deaths, was a serious violation of human rights.
To mark World Human Rights Day, the seminar was jointly organised by the Pakistan Medical Association’s Karachi chapter and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecoligists of Pakistan (SOGP) at the PMA House.
“The condition of pregnant women is extremely poor in many parts of the world, particularly in the Third World, where they are dying or suffering abortions because of miserable facilities and understanding,” said Dr Donia Nilofar Khan, an expert on women’s health.
She said women in the developing countries had no right to decide about their fate during pregnancies, which coupled with difficult terrains and lack of transport often resulted in their deaths.
“In the rural parts of Pakistan, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, 70 per cent of women have no access to health facilities on time,” she said, adding that those lucky ones who somehow got to any health outlet found miserably insufficient assistance.”
Dr Nighat Shah of the SOGP cited a recent study that particularly in the rural areas more than 50 per cent pregnant women were victims of domestic violence and in many such cases they had to suffer abortion.
She called for a pro-women school syllabus and declaration of education for women a priority.
Dr Shershah Syed spoke about the prevalent misogynistic attitude in society in which women continued to be dependent on the whims of man.
“A pregnant woman is forced for abortion if the family knows the sex of the foetus. Females have always been declared unwanted by our society at large,” he said. He said he often saw gunfire in jubilation by the families when a boy was born but in the case of a girl he heard deafening sighs.
Erum Farooque, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement member of the Sindh Assembly, bemoaned the dominant feudal system in Pakistan. However, she said the provincial assembly had passed several pro-women laws, which would help a lot in future to change the game.
Dr Qazi Wasiq, general secretary of the PMA Karachi, concluded the programme with a note of thanks.