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Reproductive Rights

Dear Amy,

I am a doctor working in Pakistan and my main line of work is Reproductive Health. Both women and men come for help but I face difficulty in making women understand that they are denied their basic rights. Women cannot decide about the number of children they have to bear. They are usually not allowed to adopt any contraceptive method, and are only brought to the hospital when their condition is serious and so on.

I am trying my level best to help these poor creatures but I think I need studies in Women's Development and Women's Health issues to be able to guide and help the women of my country specially those of remote areas. I am working in Northern Areas of Pakistan and women here are suffering in all aspects of life. Can you guide me regarding any study? I cannot afford to pay so if there is a scholarship kindly do let me know.


Dr. Khola


Dear Dr, Khola,

Thanks for the work you are doing for women in Pakistan. A few years ago I started to get lots of questions at Ask Amy that lead me to conclude that we need to do more work on male accountability in reproductive health. However, there are two sides to this problem.

In the US, the problem is mostly a lack of involvement on the part of men--i.e. they don't get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, they don't have to bear the consequences of unintended pregnancies as much as women do, and they don't always take responsibility for their own health.

Beyond the US, the opposite problem seems to exist, which is that men are too involved in the reproductive health services of women. I know this to be true in Latin America and I guess the same goes for Pakistan. Men are too involved in women's decision-making over their own bodies and about their own sexuality, so much so that the decision isn't always in the best interest of the women involved.

Because this is a widespread problem, there are several studies on this topic that might be of help to you. The Alan Guttmacher Institute has undertaken studies such as this. If you have to pay for these publications, which I understand you can't, let me know which ones you want and I should be able to get for free for you. There is also Family Planning International, which has undertaken similar studies. If you send me your mailing address, I can request material on your behalf. I also have a friend who works in this area and I'm going to ask her advice about other publications.

I hope that helps and I thank you again for your work.

-- Amy


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