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Honor women’s rights not her womb

by IT Web Admin
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The overwhelming urge to protect one’s family and community at all costs is an understandable human emotion as old as human existence itself, and one which transcends humankind and is found in animalkind too. But when this urge fails to be guided by reason, that sole aspect which distinguishes humankind and animalkind, then it becomes an infringement of life and rights alike.  
For the last few years, this urge to protect the family and the community had driven our society to a state of tumult due to the fear that the indigenous populations of the state are fast becoming a minority due to the unchecked influx of non-locals. Understandable. While the apprehension and actuality of a community/population being swallowed by an outside force is the core issue behind many of the conflict around the world since time immemorial, urging womenfolk to produce as many children as possible would be the least reasonable response.  
Sadly this however seems to be the underlying thought behind the honouring and awarding of women having as many as nine to 15 children by some local organisations during the last few years. The fact that women as young as 44 years had given birth to 15 children speaks volumes about the failure of the family planning policy in the state despite the crores of rupees which had been pumped in. It also is an indicator of the suppression of a woman’s right to her own body and life by the patriarchal forces. How healthy would be a woman’s physical and mental state be when she has had to deliver and rear 15 children in a male-dominated, impoverished society like ours! And what would be the state of the children themselves – their education, nutrition and livelihood opportunities! For what reason then is the award? If the sole criteria is the fertility of the woman’s womb which has enabled her to produce so many children so as to “balance” the demography of the state, doesn’t it relegate a woman’s status to the sole central point of her womb? Doesn’t this line of thought contradict the existence of the mothers of Manipur who are celebrated in every academic paper and public platform?
The point to note is that family planning is not just about regulating population figures. It is also about ensuring the rights of a woman, giving her control over her own body, ensuring a healthy mother and a healthy child for a healthy society and future. The fact that some of the local organisations and even elected peoples’ representatives fail to understand this and are not only denouncing family planning but also actively encouraging menfolk to force themselves on women so as to produce as many children as possible is no laughing matter. Both the organisations and the elected representatives should be denounced publicly. If not the toll will not only be on the women, but also on our society as a whole.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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