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Dhaka Tribune

Sexual, reproductive health rights of people with disabilities neglected

Before the SRHR needs of people with disabilities can be addressed they need to be included in the plan, the speakers added

Update : 28 Oct 2019, 11:29 PM

The sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of people with disabilities has long been neglected in Bangladesh, said speakers at a workshop.

Before the SRHR needs of people with disabilities can be addressed they need to be included in the plan, the speakers added.

The comments were made during a journalists’ orientation workshop on the SRHR of people with disabilities, held at Brac James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) in Dhaka on Monday morning.

Delivering a presentation at the workshop, Brac JPGSPH Research Associate Fatema Akter Bonny said there was a lack of specific data on the number of people with disabilities in the country.

“According to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey, 2016, 6.27% of the male population and 7.59% of the female population have disabilities. There is no data on the SRHR situation of these people,” she said.

Quoting global studies, Fatema added that people with disabilities receive poorer pregnancy, childbirth and post delivery care services than other people.

“Young people with disabilities who seek reproductive health services generally get poorer service than people without disabilities. Health workers in the country do not screen them routinely for sexually transmitted infections either,” she said.

Fatema also drew attention to a global practice of forced sterilization of young persons with disabilities by caregivers, for menstrual management and to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

“This practice was not limited to girls, and even boys were forced into sterilization so that their lives could become ‘easier’,” she said.

Brac JPGSPH Research Fellow Raia Azmi said: “People with disabilities have expressed their frustration, as the design of health care institute buildings shows they were excluded during the planning.

Assistant Professor of the institution, Tanvir Hasan, lamented that the SRHR of people with disabilities is not prioritized in Bangladesh, even though people with disabilities require more SRH care and services than people without disabilities.

“The Government of Bangladesh has undertaken several initiatives for the wellbeing of persons with disabilities, but they are yet to take any steps to address the SRHR needs of persons with disabilities,” he added.

Several reporters, media personnel, and other researchers of Brac JPGSPH were present at the program.

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