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Reproductive Autonomy Of Women In India: An Emerging Challenge Of Society

In general terms, Reproductive rights are the rights of individuals to decide whether to reproduce and have reproductive health. This could include the right to start a family, end a pregnancy, use contraception, learn about sex education in public schools, and obtain reproductive health services. All couples and individuals have the right to choose the number, spacing, and timing of their children in a free and responsible manner.

It also encompasses the right to knowledge and the means to obtain it, as well as the right to the greatest quality of reproductive health, as well as the freedom to make reproductive decisions free of discrimination, coercion, and violence. Courts have been in the forefront of expanding, protecting, and promoting reproductive rights in the real world.

Due to the moral, ethical, and religious implications of birth control, abortion, and family planning, the reproductive rights movement in the United States has witnessed many disputes in the past. Reproductive rights remain an emotionally and politically contentious topic today, especially in light of new technologies and recent legislation.

Despite the fact that India was one of the first countries in the world to develop legal and policy frameworks ensuring access to abortion and contraception, women and girls continue to face significant obstacles to fully exercising their reproductive rights, including poor health services and denials of decision-making authority.

In the past, India's reproductive health laws and policies have failed to prioritise women's rights, instead focusing on demographic goals such as population control, while also implicitly or explicitly undermining women's reproductive autonomy through discriminatory provisions such as spousal consent requirements for access to reproductive health services. Despite a national legislation prohibiting girls under the age of 18 from marrying and laws and initiatives ensuring women's maternal healthcare, India continues to have the greatest number of child marriages and 20 percent of all maternal fatalities worldwide.

Regardless of the fact that India's National Population Policy guarantees women voluntary access to the full range of contraceptive methods, state governments continue to implement schemes that encourage female sterilization, including through targets, coercion, risky substandard sterilization procedures, and denial of access to non-permanent methods. While India's Constitution does not directly recognise the right to health (or reproductive rights), various High Courts and the Supreme Court rulings have interpreted the right to health and the right to reproduction as crucial to the right to life under Article-21.

Human rights experts and bodies from the United Nations have expressed concern to the Indian government about a variety of reproductive rights issues, including maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortion and poor post-abortion care, lack of access to a full range of contraceptive methods and reliance on coercive and substandard female sterilisation, child marriage, and a lack of information and education on reproductive and sexual health.

India has been urged to resolve these transgressions, as well as discrepancies in access to reproductive health care, by these experts and authorities. Access to legal and safe abortion is a critical component of sexual and reproductive equality, as well as a public health concern, and must be considered in current democratic discussions that seek to create a just society free of all forms of discrimination.

Women have been the worst sufferers of Covid-19 due to multiple reasons. The pandemic warrants a reminder that reproductive rights are human rights - they are essential and urgent. It may not be wrong to say that human rights were introduced in India right back in 1950 with the development of the Constitution of our country.

The human rights movement has seen rapid progress and success, and many national programs and mechanisms have been introduced to complement the growing recognition of an individual's rights. Experts have pointed to how reproductive rights form an integral part of human rights at a broad level and even of our Constitution at a national level, and therefore India's obligations to them. There is reciprocity between reproductive rights and a larger human rights framework.

Just as human rights cannot be realized without promoting women's reproductive rights, reproductive rights draw their meaning and force from long-recognized human rights. However, the merging of the two in practice remains ambiguous. Indeed, the fact that reproductive rights apply to everyone - irrespective of age and marital status - is a concept difficult to get through to an Indian audience. It is no surprise then that reproductive rights have not been completely established despite being an innate part of every individual.

Literature Review
  1. Women reproductive rights in India: prospective future
    Reproductive health and the right to reproductive health is a family health and societal issue, not only a woman's concern. The ultimate goal of the right to reproduction is the family's and individual's well-being. At the same time, governments must provide quality reproductive health care and defend individual reproductive rights while remaining attentive to local and cultural challenges.

    There is a greater need for judicial and government enlightenment while preserving the reproductive rights of people with disabilities, particularly those with mental retardation and mental illness. There is also a greater demand for judicial system enlightenment on the procedure of consent to abortion. Men's involvement and active community participation are required to achieve high-quality reproductive health care (spouse).
     
  2. Realizing Reproductive Choice and Rights Abortion and Contraception in India
    Especially considering the fact that abortion has been legal in India since 1972, this study indicates that the great majority of Indian women lack reproductive rights and choices. The findings of this paper shows that in order for women in poor nations to have reproductive rights and choices, they must address topics other than abortion legislation.

    The findings of this study reveal that in India, the lack of safe, effective, and accessible temporary contraception is just as big of a barrier to women's reproductive rights and choices as the law's ineffectual and bad implementation. While most (but not all) women in the Western world consider basic access to effective contraception to be a given, this is not the case in many developing nations, with India being a prime example.

    Similarly, passing an abortion-related law is a necessary but insufficient prerequisite for assuring access to safe and effective abortion services. It is also critical to ensure that women are aware of their legal rights, that service provision reaches a large number of women, and that social, gender-based, and health-related barriers to service access are appropriately addressed. For Indian women, temporary contraception must be made a viable option.

    Our results demonstrate that, despite their dire need, women do not use temporary methods, in part because they are unaware of their existence or where to obtain them, in part because influential family members such as husbands, mothers-in-law, or mothers oppose their use, and in part because they themselves are sceptical of these methods
     
  3. India's reproductive assembly line
    Surrogacy also had a greater emotional impact on the women than other types of paid work. Surrogacy helped women to demonstrate their moral value because kids are life affirming in a way that clothing are manifestly not. Their sexual morality was continually questioned at the factory and at home when they worked in the clothing industry. They were in a women-only zone at the hostel, abstaining from sex and enjoying pure, virtuous lives.
     
  4. Toward Human Rights and Evidence-Based Legal Frameworks for (Self-Managed) Abortion: A Review of the Last Decade of Legal Reform
    It has been determined that the "fragmented landscape" of abortion laws and regulations makes no legal or public health sense. The constraints on abortion listed above (including self-managing) illustrate that abortion is still viewed as a rare occurrence that necessitates medical intervention or supervision.

    Self-managed abortion and the expanding body of evidence are changing the model of abortion access, but they are also calling into question the portrayal of abortion as a rare occurrence that requires medical supervision or control. Abortion continues to be overregulated, despite the fact that it is a fairly common and safe procedure (given the right circumstances).

    However, abortion debates are rarely limited to health and human rights issues, with technical, political, religious, and other variables all playing a role. We recognise that legal change is a complicated process that necessitates a succession of clever political concessions. Separating the wheat from the chaff in abortion arguments can be as simple as defining the core foundations of legislative reform (in accordance with the most recent human rights standards and accessible facts).

    While the recently passed legislation are a step in the right direction, much more effort is required to bring domestic frameworks in line with evidence and human rights. The majority of the reforms favour partial decriminalisation or exception-based incarceration.
     
  5. Abortion in the context of COVID-19: a human rights imperative
    Women's access to safe abortion must not be ignored as states work to stop COVID-19's damage. Women must be able to prevent and/or manage unwanted pregnancies, not only for their own health and well-being, but also to support effective public health responses to prevent and treat COVID-19, with dwindling contraceptive supplies, overburdened health systems, job losses, and rising risks of violence.

    The pandemic has brought attention to the ways in which existing legal frameworks - even in nations with "liberal" abortion laws - continue to stifle access to this vital health care by failing to acknowledge the safety of medical abortion, especially through telemedicine. Allowing women to have a safe self-managed abortion with telemedicine counselling is more than a matter of harm reduction; it is also a matter of human rights and would be a critical step toward governments meeting their binding international legal commitments.
     
  6. Feminism, National D development, and Transational Family Planning
    The success of feminist women's efforts was contingent on forming alliances with a wide range of people, from demographers to eugenicists, medics to planners, who promoted population control as a means of national (and "Third World") development. According to some historians, the result brought together odd bedfellows in both national and international family planning initiatives.

    Family planners helped forward the promise of state-led family planning to alleviate poverty without grappling with gender, class, or caste imbalances by presenting women in this role. Indeed, feminism's link to family planning hinged on its claim to pull poor women's reproductive life more firmly into the arms of the development state, rather than on its claim to fight patriarchy or women's subordination.
     
  7. Heterosexuality and the Happy Family
    It has shown, the language of the tiny and happy family is based on a series of promises about heteronormative reproduction and the future. Reproduction is solely responsible for constructing the future envisioned by the Five Year Plans, just as it is in works like We Two Our Two. Rather than social reform, the text advocates for reproductive regulation; proper reproduction generates proper futures.
     
  8. Global Developments in Laws on Induced Abortion: 2008-2019
    Evidence suggests that restricting abortion does not eradicate the practise; rather, it leads to women having illegal abortions, which are likely to be dangerous. It is critical to monitor developments in the legal status of abortion around the world on a regular basis.

    Income and legality were positively correlated:
    The percentage of countries in the two most liberal categories increased in lockstep with GDP. Between 2008 and 2019, 27 countries increased the number of legal reasons for abortion; 21 progressed to a new legality category, and six added at least one of the most prevalent extra legal reasons. A variety of tactics, most involving many stakeholders and appeals for compliance with international human rights principles, resulted in reform. Over the last decade, the global trend toward liberalisation has continued; nonetheless, more progress is needed to achieve all women's right to legal abortion and appropriate access to safe procedures in all nations.

Conceptualizing The Problem
It has been 74 years since India got independence and there cannot be a more right time to analyse the position and 'space' that women in India enjoy today. The journey of women's emancipation in India has been truly dynamic with women participating in nationalist movements, to being pushed into the domestic household space, to their resurgence as super-women today; women in our country have seen it all.

However, the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights of women in the country still remains negligible. Reproductive rights in India are understood only in the context of selective issues like child marriage, female foeticide, sex selection and menstrual health and hygiene issues.

This is reflected in election manifestos of various parties where political parties have promised to make registration of marriages compulsory, implement the laws prohibiting child marriages, provide reproductive and menstrual health services to all women across India, make marital rape an offence and to ensure strict implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT) Act.

According to UNICEF India and World Bank data, India counts among the highest number of maternal deaths worldwide. India witnesses 45,000 maternal deaths every year, coming to an average of one maternal death every 12 minutes.

Unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths in India. Researches have shown that half the pregnancies in India are unintended and about a third result in abortion. Only 22% of abortions are done through public or private health facilities.

Lack of access to safe abortion clinics, particularly public hospitals, and stigma and attitudes toward women, especially young, unmarried women seeking abortion, contribute to this.

Doctors refuse to perform abortions on young women or demand that they get consent from their parents or spouses despite no such requirement by law. This forces many women to turn to clandestine and often unsafe abortions.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 provides for termination only up to 20 weeks. If an unwanted pregnancy has proceeded beyond 20 weeks, women have to approach a medical board and courts to seek permission for termination, which is extremely difficult and cumbersome.

The law does not accommodate non-medical concerns over the economic costs of raising a child, effects on career decisions, or any other personal considerations.

The silence around unsafe abortion leads to deaths of women and hides important problems that lie at the intersection of these concerns, such as the formidable barriers for adolescent girls to access reproductive health services, including abortion services.

Public policies surrounding reproductive rights are still largely focussed on sterilisation as opposed to other methods of contraception.

Poor awareness of lawful abortion care and contraception is pervasive among the general public and healthcare providers alike.

The use of an Aadhar card as a pre-condition to access medical services is a restrictive requirement.

Large-scale data infrastructures are on the rise, resulting in the datafication of the reproductive health environment.

Very sad thing in India is that the issue of female sterilization, men are not coming forward, family planning burdens are only upon the women till now.

After many laws passed, the situation is not good because only normative changes in law cannot bring changes in society or societal reform. Law is not a big agent of societal control, until male domination or male control prevail in our society. The situation cannot change speedily.

All laws made by India mainly reflect male experience of life, till today we have not added female experience of life yet. Female experience excludes from law.
Formal Equality Substantive equality
Same treatment : antecedent disadvantage not relevant Different treatment may be necessary to redress disadvantage (quota)
Male norm Structural obstacles
Relative : equality poor Improve conditions for all
Abstracted from societal context Power or cultural norms
Previous High Courts and Supreme Court judgements are protective for women (formal quality) not substantive equality.

In India, one woman dies every 15 minutes due to lack of healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. Although the country legalized abortion almost five decades ago, access is extremely limited, and it is estimated that one woman in India dies every three hours due to an unsafe abortion.

Despite a national law penalizing marriage of girls below 18 years of age, in practice India continues to account for the highest number of child marriages; and despite policies and schemes guaranteeing women maternal healthcare, India accounts for 20% of all maternal deaths globally. Various states have enacted coercive population policies that exclude families with more than two children from welfare programs, government jobs, political participation, and access to education and health facilities - without guaranteeing couples access to a full range of contraceptive services.

Further, Indian women face among the world's highest risk of HIV/AIDS and discriminatory treatment if infected, forced abortions of female foetuses, trafficking for forced prostitution, custodial rape in government institutions, sexual harassment in the workplace; and harmful customs that seriously undermine reproductive health.

The issue of right to reproductive health especially abortion, takes on special significance in the Indian context as various national and international stakeholders struggle to bring meaning to the important concepts of women empowerment, rights and choice.

For example, a woman should have the space to decide whether she wants to marry or not, who she wants to marry, whether she wants to have children or not, how many children does she want to have, and what will be the spacing between them. This becomes important because even though both the male and the female participate in procreation, it is the female who has the biological responsibility of ensuring the complete development of the foetus.

Pregnancy has a larger and more lasting effect on the woman who is pregnant in comparison to her partner. It therefore becomes a woman's human right to decide whether and when she wants to have children and choose what happens with her body.

The Indian setting is heavily guided by the social context that defines the pressures, constraints, and options for women's reproductive behaviour. Women's enjoyment of their reproductive rights is heavily undermined by gender-biased norms and practices that govern family matters. At a higher level one finds several apparent contradictions in how policies are set, how services are delivered, how demographic trends and desires about family size and composition shape the demand for contraception and abortion.

Although India was among the first countries in the world to develop legal and policy frameworks guaranteeing access to abortion and contraception, women and girls continue to experience significant barriers to full enjoyment of their reproductive rights - it is time to change this. On this Human Rights Day, let us pledge to support and steer reproductive rights, not only because we want healthier women, but because we want empowered women and girls.

The problem of the unmarried mother and the illegitimate child is infinitely old, but of late we have come to regard it in a new way. For ages it had been one of those questions which were dealt with by specialists only, which were not thought about, or known about by ordinary people ; something which tended to be hushed up, and to be put in a special compartment, accessible only to the few who worked among what our own mothers would have called, if they had referred to them at all, fallen women.

In India if a girl gets pregnant before marriage then Most of the time her family disowns her. If the boy who made her pregnant is man enough to handle the situation, then she gives birth to their child. But most of the time, the boy tries to ignore the girl and get rid of her. In case, even the boy who made her pregnant is decent enough and ready to handle the situation, the family disagrees and disowns them both.

Finally, if the girl, boy and their respective families are OK with her pregnancy, the relatives create a fuss out of it and make everyone feel guilty. In this case, if even the relatives and neighbors are fine and acceptable to the situation, the society isn't. But, if she closes her eyes, keeps her hand on her belly and thinks about the little life living within her, she hardly cares about anyone or anything else.

Objectives
Pregnancy before marriage or even having a child before marriage is perfectly legal if both are consenting adults (18+). Although it is considered as a taboo by the society and considered as an act of bringing shame to the entire family, according to the Indian law, it is perfectly Legal.

But there are many challenges if people know that you are pregnant/have a child despite being unmarried.
  1. Majority of the society will consider you as outcast, savage, etc (there are a few exceptions though).
  2. People won't like their children to mingle with a child having unmarried parents, The child would be referred as "NAJAYAZ AULAD" (Illegitimate child).
  3. Unmarried couples may face some problems in renting a house as many owners or societies do not want unmarried couples living in their property (to avoid any controversy). Many societies have specifically instructed the members not to give their flat on rent to bachelors or unmarried couples or give your flat for rent only to families. Many times owners themselves state that only families are allowed, only for girls, etc.
  4. Some schools also demand a photocopy of the marriage certificate of parents in the list of mandatory documents required for admission. This could be a problem for your child if you aren't married by then.
The mindset of the society is gradually changing as years pass. But some of the Orthodox mindset still prevails. It may take some time for people to accept it. If someone tries to harass you, do not shy away from approaching the police or the court.

Even in states where illegitimate children have the same inheritance rights as legitimate children, there may be other impacts due to a lack of legitimacy. For example, survivor benefits for pension rights may only provide benefits to legitimate children. The receipt of survivor Social Security benefits depends on whether a child is considered legitimate or whether steps based on state law have been taken so that the child has acquired inheritance rights.

Research Question
  • Why only mother identity will not be sufficient for an illegitimate child (child born before marriage)?
  • Why are women in India still facing hell like a situation if she gets pregnant before marriage and why can't she give birth to her own child and give her own identity?
Hypothesis
When a woman before marriage get pregnant then may be she will go for suicide or murdered by her own family in our orthodox society. Yes, this is true. Parents avoid to talk about sex , condoms basically sex education in the case of girls they can't even discuss with her friends. So knowledge about sex is simply zero. But boys know everything , which means they are wikipedia.

The most stupid thing, our Indian films, girl fall in love with a boy and then they do sex ( shows love means to sex ) which complete their love. So where will girl will go, she don't have sex education but seing bed scenes on TV, don't know about love, but have boyfriend.

We have to teach girls to mature enough before the lesson of adjustment. Many girls are facing punishment for those sins about which they actually don't know. And then named as slut, prostitute, characterless even by her own family. And after that pregnancy news, abortion is second thing or marriage. How can she kill her own child, just because she is not her official child, and where is child mistake, those fleshy masses which are going to become a new human, a new being, which have the ability to change the world.

So the conclusion is in our country if an unmarried girl is pregnant her life is completely shattered, and is more than a hell. Now she is news to most of her relatives, neighbours about how characterless she is. Maybe her father will hang himself, because he is more answerable to society than her girl life . Maybe her mother will burn her or she will burn her daughter. Or she will got married immidietly to any old aged man who will called her or treat her like a prostitute. Or she will abort her child and live whole life as a guilt.

An illegitimate child is born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of the child's birth. Even if the parents later married, the child would still be considered illegitimate. Children who were born during a marriage that was later annulled were historically considered illegitimate. However, many state laws were modified to make the children legitimate in these situations. This child was considered the child of no one. He or she had no legal rights to inherit from either parent.

While legitimate children were seen as the property of the father, illegitimate children were seen as the property of no one. Such a child was nullius filius and had no legal relationship with his or her parents. The early bastardy laws were aimed at preventing illegitimate children from becoming a charge on the community—and attempted to do so by punishing the unmarried mother and the reputed father, and charging either the mother or both for the relief of the child. In the twentieth century, the status of the illegitimate child has changed substantially as has the language concerning legitimacy.

Article 25(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 provides that 'all children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection' and Article 2(2) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC) requires states to take all 'appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status of the child's parents.'

Many states modified their laws to give illegitimate children the right to inherit through one or both parents by the 20th century. Some states still had laws that limited the legal rights of an illegitimate child. The United States Supreme Court ruled that state laws that denied illegitimate children rights based solely on their illegitimate status were unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution. In a 1977 United States Supreme Court case, the court struck down a state law that did not give a legitimate child the right to inherit from her father unless there was a provision in his will for an inheritance.

While at common law, the child was considered the child of no one, the modern approach is to consider the child the biological mother's child. This means that the child has a right to inherit from his or her biological mother unless there was an adoption where the mother did not remain a legal parent.

However, the approach regarding whether a child has the right to inherit from his or her father is not consistent through different states. Many states do not consider an illegitimate child to be the legal child of his or her father. However, there may be ways to establish the legal relationship, such as allowing the child to present evidence of this relationship. In many states, if the father publicly accepted that he was the child's father, the child may have the right to inheritance.

Other ways that the child may establish paternity and be able to acquire inheritance rights include if the father later married the child's mother or there was a judicial proceeding establishing paternity. Paternity usually has to be established during the father's lifetime for the child to acquire inheritance rights. However, some states allow the child to establish paternity through DNA testing after death.

Under the Uniform Probate Code, there is a presumption of paternity when the father treats the child as his own and provides support for him or her. Some jurisdictions infer paternity if the relatives of the father treat the child as the father's child.

Reproductive rights of individuals and couples in India can be located in laws and policies relating to health, employment, education, provision of food and nutrition, and protection from gender-based violence. These fundamental rights are guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, but the right to health or reproductive rights are not expressly recognised as fundamental rights.

On many occasions our Hon'ble Supreme Court has interpreted the right to health as an integral part to the right to life. In Suchita Srivastava and Another vs Chandigarh Administration, the Court held that reproductive autonomy is a dimension of personal liberty as guaranteed under Article-21 (Part-III) under Indian Constitution:

It is important to recognise that reproductive choices can be exercised to procreate as well as to abstain from procreating. The crucial consideration is that a woman's right to privacy, dignity and bodily integrity should be respected. This means that there should be no restriction whatsoever on the exercise of reproductive choices such as a woman's right to refuse participation in sexual activity or alternatively the insistence on [the] use of contraceptive methods.

Furthermore, women are also free to choose birth-control methods such as undergoing sterilisation procedures. Taken to their logical conclusion, reproductive rights include a woman's entitlement to carry a pregnancy to its full term, to give birth and to subsequently raise children.

Several provisions under Part IV of the Constitution are also related to issues of health, which are not enforceable in any court, but create an obligation on the State to apply these principles in making laws and policies, such as Article- 39(e), 39(f), 42, 45 and 47.

In the past, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (MTPA) regulated access to abortion, when and under what conditions it may be conducted and by whom. However, it has recently been replaced by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021. Unless conducted as per the MTPA, termination of pregnancy is considered to be an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). There are other laws which include provisions related to child marriage, immoral trafficking, etc. which also deal with issues related directly or indirectly related to reproductive health of women.

There are many schemes implemented by the government to address maternal health and related issues, like Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A), Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), etc. which ensure that contraceptives, hygiene products, awareness are reaching from time to time and helping to some extent in reducing the number of women and girls who are facing challenges related to their health and other concerns.

The Supreme Court has been extremely progressive on women's reproductive rights. By decriminalising adultery and homosexuality (Navtej Johar judgment) the court has held clearly, that women have a right to sexual autonomy, which is an important facet of their right to personal liberty. The Puttaswamy judgment specifically recognised the Constitutional right of women to make reproductive choices, as a part of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

In the case of Independent Thought v. Union of India in the context of reproductive rights of girls SC held:
The human rights of a girl child are very much alive and kicking whether she is married or not and deserve recognition and acceptance.

These judgments have an important bearing on the sexual and reproductive rights of women. The right to safe abortion is an important facet of their right to bodily integrity, right to life and equality and needs to be protected.

Methodology
This paper will be based on a review of academic literature which contributed to the development of the research project. The analysis under this article will be based on secondary data collected by means of academic research papers, reports from national and international agencies, magazines, newspaper coverage, and conversations with advocats.The study is entirely qualitative. It mainly focuses on the case study of India. An extensive evaluation inspired the study selection, with special regard to the key areas stated earlier in the objective.

Scope Of Research
Child born before marriage will not be revealed or identified by the society to be illegitimate. By this, their dignity will not be curtailed or dignity will be as per with other legitimate children.

Sexual and reproductive rights in India must include:
  1. a concern with maternal deaths,
  2. access to maternal care to safe abortions,
  3. access to contraceptives,
  4. recognition of adolescent sexuality,
  5. prohibition of forced medical procedures such as forced sterilisations
  6. removal of stigma and discrimination against women, girls and LGBTI persons on the basis of their gender, sexuality and access to treatment,

Under all societies in the world, the status of a child i.e. whether it is born legitimate or illegitimate has great consequences. Both in contemporary society and in historical society there is classification of children as legitimate and illegitimate. Since time immemorial, there is a social stigma surrounding a child who is not born to legally wedded/married parents. The illegitimate children never enjoyed equal status along with the legitimate children.

Society has always discriminated against illegitimate children in many ways. Not only has society discriminated against them, even law has discriminated against them. Law has not given the illegitimate children the same legal rights as the legitimate ones are given. Under almost all the personal laws the right to inheritance of the legitimate children and the illegitimate children are not the same. Illegitimacy carried a strong social stigma among all religions practised in the world.

Indian society continues to act as though any childbirth that is not preceded by a wedding ceremony falls outside the pale. According to the existing legal and societal framework, the only children who are entitled to legal recognition are those who are born into a relationship between a man and a woman. But in 2014 the Supreme Court judgment which ruled that the children of a live-in relationship could not be termed illegitimate. Despite having granted the status of legitimate, the Marriage Act could not protect the interests of innocent children who have no control over their birth.

Relevance, Anticipated Outcomes And Proposed Outputs From The Research
That depends on the children and how they would be raised. Just because they are illegitimate, doesn't mean they are all bad. They just want to make things better for their own lives and want to fit in the world. Mostly, they are born due to affairs and that they don't get accepted by the family because of being the reminder of the affair.

The family should welcome the illegitimate children with open arms including their half siblings. Some of them have ended up having their lives become worse, because not only are they not accepted by the family, but they end up getting bullied, abused, and friendless.

This would even happen if they were put up for adoption. That is not fair for them. People should befriend illegitimate children and help them improve their lives to become better. If the illegitimate children went on a dark path or committed suicide because of how their lives have become worse, then it would be on the people who caused this.

The MTP Act needs to be reformed comprehensively so that it can be more inclusive and sensitive towards the plight of married women who are forced to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term against their will. It should also include the economic burden a woman has to undertake in raising a child. Access to legal and safe abortion is an integral dimension of sexual and reproductive equality, a public health issue, and must be seen as a crucial element in the contemporary debates on democracy that seeks to provide the just society that abhors all sort of discrimination.

The responsibility also lies with civil society and development actors to bring up these issues for public debate and in demand. Over the years, women have made great strides in many areas with notable progress in reducing gender gaps. Yet realities of women and girls getting trafficked, maternal health, deaths related to abortion every year has hit hard against all the development that has taken place, even negating it sometimes.

As in the words of Swami Vivekananda "It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing."

Tentative Cauterization
  1. Reproductive Rights in India: The Current Situation
  2. Abortion and Reproductive Autonomy
  3. Judicial Recognition of Reproductive Rights as Fundamental and Human Rights
  4. Assessment Of Key Areas Of Reproductive Health And Rights: Issues, Gaps And Compliance
  5. What are the challenges?
  6. Rights available for Women in India:
    1. Right To Equality In Reproductive Decisions
    2. Right To Sexual And Reproductive Security
    3. Right To Reproductive Sexual And Health Services
  7. Issue of before marriage pregnancy
  8. What type of problems are facing the illegitimate child in India and his/her mother?
  9. Rights of Illegitimate child in India
  10. Way Forward and suggestions
References:
  1. Kosgi, Srinivas; N, Vaishali Hegde; Rao, Satheesh; Undaru, Shrinivasa Bhat; and Pai, Nagesh B., 2011, Women reproductive rights in India: prospective future, 1-5. https://ro.uow.edu.au/medpapers/130
  2. Realizing reproductive choice and rights: abortion and contraception in India. A. Malhotra, L. Nyblade, +2 authors N. Kashyap Published 2003 Medicine
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Realizing-reproductive-choice-and-rights%3A-abortion-Malhotra-Nyblade/611f58d4a93138549370006b8b52731f687c218e
  3. India's reproductive assembly line Author(s): sharmila rudrappa Source: Contexts , SPRING 2012, Vol. 11, No. 2, from sweatshops to surrogacy (SPRING 2012), pp. 22-27 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the American Sociological Association Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41960808
  4. Toward Human Rights and Evidence-Based Legal Frameworks for (Self-Managed) Abortion Author(s): LUCÍA BERRO PIZZAROSSA and PATTY SKUSTER Source: Health and Human Rights , JUNE 2021, Vol. 23, No. 1, SPECIAL SECTION: Public and Mental Health, Human Rights, and Atrocity Prevention (JUNE 2021), pp. 199-212 Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard College on behalf of Harvard School of Public Health/François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/27040047
  5. Jaime Todd-Gher & Payal K. Shah (2020) Abortion in the context of COVID-19: a human rights imperative, Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, 28:1, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/26410397.2020.1758394
  6. Mytheli Sreenivas (2021) Feminism, Family Planning and National Planning, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 44:2, 313-328, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2021.1886731
  7. https://uw.manifoldapp.org › section "5. Heterosexuality and the Happy Family" in "Reproductive Politics ...
  8. Global Developments in Laws on Induced Abortion: 2008-2019 Lisa Remez,Guttmacher Institute Katherine Mayall,Center for Reproductive Rights
    Susheela Singh,Guttmacher Institute First published online: December 14, 2020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1363/46e0920
Written By: Shashwata Sahu, Advocate, LL.M., KIIT School of Law

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