Ms. Neha Rathi
Mentor: Ms. Sushma Shende, Society for Nutrition, Education, and Health Action
Maternal Health Focus: Human & reproductive rights law
“Right from the application and selection, Arusha conference, and leadership development workshop, fellowship at my host organization and my research work, MHYC program has been an enriching experience. It has given me an opportunity to delve deeper into maternal health issues in India. The topic of abortion specifically lead me to explore it and bring out service guarantee violations and perceptions of women from the community and abortion providers.”
A Noble Purpose
‘As an advocate and researcher, my inclination towards justice delivery on reproductive rights has been strengthened through this fellowship. I am confident that the deep rooted understanding of maternal health issues and my commitment towards the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity will contribute to improving maternal health outcomes.’ With these words, Neha Rathi chose human and reproductive rights law as her Maternal Health Focus. This Young Champion was mentored by Ms. Sushma Shende from the Society for Nutrition, Education, and Health Action, Mumbai.
Ms. Neha Rathi has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, a law degree from the University of Delhi, and a Master of Law in International Human Rights from the London School of Economics. At the Human Rights Law Network, she worked on two cases that resulted in the award of compensation to victims of reproductive rights violations for the first time and assisted on the landmark reproductive rights case of Laxmi Mandal vs. Deen Dayal Hari Nager Hospital & Ors. In the past year Neha has conducted legal research on Justifiability of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Law of Self-Determination and Secession; and Poverty as Violation of Human Rights. She has published articles on reproductive rights in The Asian Age, Asian News International, Sahara Time, and Hard News Magazine.
The Journey: A Dream Come True
Neha worked on a study about abortion-behavior among vulnerable women in Mumbai and Jalgaon in Maharashtra, closely capturing the perspectives of women and attitude of abortion providers from both urban and rural background in Maharashtra. The study was the first of its kind in SNEHA, on the issue of unsafe abortion and in line with Neha's research interests. The organization plans to carry forward the research with Neha in the coming months and on the basis of the findings appropriate interventions would be made at the community level with the help of SNEHA's existing resources and field staff.
Neha’s study on abortion behavior among vulnerable women in Maharashtra helped her explore emerging issues in the abortion scenario of Maharashtra. Issues such as decision making, sex-selection, perceptions, and knowledge of Medical Termination of Pregnancy and Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Acts in India, their implementation and stigma associated with abortion were deeply studied in one urban and one rural area. Her primary research findings show increased use of medical abortion pills, denial of abortion at most hospitals after 12 weeks of pregnancy, issue of conditional abortion, and substantial numbers of never-users of contraceptives and critical lack of medical as well as legal knowledge on medical as well as surgical abortion.