MEDANTA: Draft a Non-Judgmental Code of Conduct for Gynaecs by World Sexual Health Day

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‘Are your parents aware that you are having sex with boys?’
‘Do you intend to marry the man you have had sex with?’
‘Does your husband know you are here?’ Why have you not got your husband? Are you involved with other men?’

.......and the list goes on and on for the unwanted, irrelevant and invasive questions that we are asked whenever we, as women, have tried to access sexual healthcare.

23 year old Khushboo has missed her period and is scared that she is pregnant. She is scared because she is unmarried. The thought of an unmarried woman being sexually active and accessing sexual healthcare is one of the biggest taboos our country is still struggling with. Access to healthcare, however, is guaranteed to us as a fundamental right by our Constitution.

This is the third doctor Khushboo is visiting within a week with the same problem. She is struggling to find a solution for her medical problem. However, she is still as nervous and scared as she was on her first visit. The reason: she has already been insulted and frowned upon by the other two doctors she chose to consult. She was asked irrelevant questions and made to feel ashamed of her body, her ‘privileges’, her freedom to choose, and humiliated for the same. Time is running out and if she does not get the required medical healthcare this time, she will have no option but to approach a medically unqualified person or to consume the over the counter pills.
In the midst of all this, Khushboo still doesn’t know for sure whether it is pregnancy that is delaying her periods or something else.

This is the story of my friend Khushboo, and thousands of other women in the country like me and you, who are unable to access sexual healthcare for the fear of judgment. Every year, many women like me and you are denied access to basic sexual healthcare for the fear of judgment. In a country where sex is a taboo, even the so-called ‘empowered’, educated, privileged women like us are struggling to access healthcare pertaining to their sexual and reproductive right. The reason for that is simple – I know I will be subjected to harassment in the form of irrelevant and unwanted personal questions. Why? Because our culture does not acknowledge unmarried women to engage in sexual intercourse. The result: self diagnosis and medication, which is not only physically damaging to our health, but can also have a long-term mental implication, owing to intake of unregulated hormones in the form of over the counter pills.

It is the need of the hour to encourage an atmosphere where we as women, especially unmarried women, can safely seek advice on matters of reproductive healthcare, without our marital status being the subject of discussion.

In order to achieve this goal, it is imperative that urban, progressive hospital chains like Medanta Hospital take a stand. Medanta should draft and adopt a Non-Judgmental Code of Conduct to regulate the practice of gynaecologists empaneled with them. This will provide a safe environment to us women to access healthcare without any judgment. It should be made mandatory for all the gynaecologists at Medanta Hospitals across the country to comply with the said Non-Judgmental Code of Conduct. Furthermore, a complaint mechanism should be introduced for us as women to raise an objection in case access to health is denied/harassment is caused on prejudicial grounds.

Sign this petition to urge Medanta to adopt a Non-Judgmental Code of Conduct for gynaecologists by World Sexual Health Day - 04 September 2019. #MyHealthMyRight

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14.01.2019

Haiyya, a Delhi-based NGO joined hands with the #MyHealthMyRight Campaign. Health Over Stigma, a revolutionary campaign started by Haiyya, is fighting for the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for unmarried women in India. The leaders of this campaign are young unmarried women who understand, and may have even experienced, the shame and stigma around premarital sex and female sexuality. Haiyya is invested in creating safe spaces for women for women to share their stories through their network of community meetings called the Vagina Dialogues, while connecting women to a network of non-judgemental doctors who commit to their 10 commandments. The following are the 10 COMMANDMENTS that gynaecologists are expected to, ideally, follow:

10 COMMANDMENTS

As Gynaecologists we commit to these 10 commandments of how we will behave with regards to unmarried female patients. We want to make our clinics a safe and non-judgmental space where unmarried women are encouraged to access services.

  1. Respecting your confidentiality and not revealing your information even if your parents or partner demands so.
  2. Treating you as an independent adult without asking for permission/involvement of parents or guardians.
  3. Not asking intrusive personal questions unless they are directly linked to a diagnosis and being transparent in explaining why.
  4. Not asking if you’re married but instead if you’re sexually active (unless required by law).
  5. Not pushing or prescribing you towards a certain behaviour just based on our moral judgments or bias. Including respecting your choice of wanting or not wanting to have a child in the future.
  6. Welcoming people from all diverse backgrounds such as religion, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, class or race.
  7. Not placing the societal norm of virginity over health; instead, giving the patient all the information before allowing them to make an informed decision about the services they want to avail such as pap smears.
  8. Following a precautionary approach and providing access to all information such as contraceptive methods.
  9. Openly and non-judgmentally discussing sexual pleasure, satisfaction and all forms of menstrual hygiene choices with you.
  10. Asking your parents or partner to leave before inquiring about your sexual activity unless you explicitly want them present.

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