Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - More and more Nepali doctors are forcing women
to undergo illegal abortions, this according to the National Women Commission
(NWC), an organisation set up by the Nepali government to protect the rights of
women. For NWC spokesperson Mohana Ansari, various religious and economic factors
are behind it, including a desire to limit the number of births among Christian
and Muslim minorities, a sick interest in videotaping the body and private
parts of young women, and the attraction of public funds earmarked for therapeutic
"If a young woman gets pregnant," Ansari said, "she has the right to
give birth to the child, but many doctors continue to abuse their power, and
for this reason we are going to the Supreme Court." To back her claim, the
activist cites several cases of women locked up in tiny rooms for checkups who
are then raped by unscrupulous people, despite their pregnancy.
"One young woman," she said, "had a videotape made by a gynaecologist
to show the suffering of childbirth so as to convince young women, especially
the poorest, to have an abortion."
Human rights activist Mera Dhungana said that such individuals can
be punished under Nepali law. All it takes is evidence that they breached their
ethical and professional code of conduct.
"However, certain interests are behind illegal abortions. Doctors who
perform them are often protected by politicians or religious leaders."
In Nepal, the termination of pregnancy has been legal since 2002 in
cases in which the health of the woman or the child is in danger, in cases of
rape or if the woman is mentally unfit or not of sound mind. Selective or
forced abortions are illegal.
In rural areas, many foreign non-governmental organisations have encouraged
a culture of contraception and voluntary sterilisation to fight poverty.
Since 2006, at least one in ten women has had an abortion or has used
abortion pills and contraceptives. Between 2001 to 2006, the fertility rate dropped from 4.1 to 3.3.