'People need to know that MR service is legal and women can get this service legally from the MR service providers'
Women in need of menstruation regulation service have to face a lot of interruptions and impediments as many service providers do not want to perform MR procedures due to social, cultural and religious restrictions, speakers said at a discussion.
A roundtable discussion on Menstrual Regulation (MR) and MR with Medication (MRM) was organized by RedOrange at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh Complex (KIBC) Convention Hall on Thursday.
Khaleda Yasmin, national coordinator (FPF), Family Planning-Field, Services Delivery (FP-
FSD), Directorate General of Family Planning, said she had come across an MR service provider who hesitated to provide MR service due to religious restrictions.
“Women and girls need to go to these trained MR service providers for safe menstrual regulation service instead of to quacks. Unfortunately, many health workers decline to provide MR service due to social, cultural and religious reasons,” she said.
She also said people needed to be educated about the health safety of women and girls post-MR service to avoid further complications.
Dr Ikhtiar Uddin Khandaker, director, Health Program of CARE Bangladesh, said religious and cultural sensitivity was considered while the government legalized MR service.
“It will ultimately save mothers’ lives from unsafe abortions. People need to know that MR service is legal and women can get this service legally from the MR service providers,” he said.
Quazi Suraiya Sultana, executive director, RH Step, said that the government of Bangladesh initiated this kind of services right after the Liberation War of 1971 to reduce maternal death.
“Even a few decades back, the government took a bold step because when necessity arises, social prejudices have to bend,” she said.
Reaz Ahmad, executive editor of Dhaka Tribune, said the media have their responsibility to highlight issues regarding MR and MRM services.
“The government provides these services free of cost or with a nominal fee but still people have to give bribes to get these services. This is the reason why good governance is absolutely important to make this MR service easily available for women who need it,” he said.
Rokeya Sultana, deputy executive director of CWFD, said that social taboo was not just about getting MR service.
In the broad lens, a woman herself is considered a taboo and so are their bodies in this society, she said.
“Women do not get their basic rights in most cases, let alone having reproductive rights. However, a woman should have her rights on how and when she would like to carry a child in her womb,” she said.
She also pointed out that if an MR service recipient is unmarried, the stigma is much higher.
Dr Nasrin Akhter, executive director of Radda MCH-FP Centre, recommended that some call centres be opened for people who have questions about MR services.
She also pointed out that the language associated with menstruation regulation service is problematic.
“People often refer to killing a baby when a woman needs MR service, which gives it a negative connotation,” she said.
Md Shawkat Hossain, manager program of Marie Stopes Bangladesh, said Bangladesh had 16 pharmaceutical companies producing MRM drugs.
“However, some of the companies do not clearly state the side effects of the drugs on the medicine packages. This is something the government should look into,” he said.
Sanjeeb Drong, president of Indigenous Peoples Development Services (IPDS), said that the voices of women from ethnic minority groups should also be considered while formulating policies about reproductive rights.
Arnob Chakrabarty, managing director of RedOrange, moderated the discussion.