The Delhi Medical Association and Delhi Medical Council has committed to ensure safe and non-judgmental sexual health services to unmarried women in New Delhi.
The declaration was the result of ‘Health Over Stigma’ campaign spearheaded by young unmarried women who has strived to hold service providers accountable for providing stigma-free sexual and reproductive health services.
Dr. Girish Tyagi, President, Delhi Medical Association and Dr. Arun Gupta, President, Delhi Medical Council has expressed solidarity with the campaign during a discussion conducted by Haiyya, a New Delhi-based human rights organisation,
“This is a very important issue that is not talked about so much, and I assure you the DMA is with the campaign,” said Dr. Girish Tyagi, President, Delhi Medical Association, in a statement issued by Haiyya.
The DMC has invited the doctor fraternity to join them in making spaces safer and accessible to unmarried women.
The campaign began in 2017 as an initiative to end the shame and stigma around young unmarried women’s sexual health and choices, and to bridge the gap that persists between unmarried women and sexual health providers.
To legitimize the issue, the campaign had presented a survey report revealing that only as low as 1% of women had received information pertaining to sexual and reproductive health and rights from their mothers, doctors or government campaigns in New Delhi.
The study which included over 750 unmarried women was conducted across the state to understand the challenges they faced when accessing sexual health services. The findings showed that 53% of these women felt unsure if the sexual health problems they were facing were severe enough to visit a gynaecologist.
“We formed a core committee for the campaign with unmarried women and allies, and other organisations working in the sexual and reproductive health rights space,” said Sreejani, campaign lead, Haiyya.
“Now the campaign is focussed on getting other bodies onboard by shifting the onus from unmarried women to medical service providers, including private hospital chains like Medanta, Fortis, FOGSI, and public health bodies like the State Health Ministry, Delhi Medical Association, to stand in solidarity with the campaign by accepting the code of conduct,” she added.
The campaign has started to gain momentum online, on social media paltforms as the victims shared their stories of stigma and discrimination that they face at the gynaecologist. The campaign is also working with Bangalore-based non-profit Jhatkaa on an online petition demanding non-judgemental services.