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07.18.12 - (PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global legal advocacy organization dedicated to the worldwide advancement of reproductive rights and their recognition as fundamental human rights, today formally announced the opening of its new office in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The launch of the office represents the culmination and extension of more than a decade of work in Nepal expanding women’s access to affordable and high-quality reproductive health services and securing a constitutional right to safe abortion for all women, regardless of their economic circumstances.
The Center has built a significant presence throughout Asia, with major campaigns addressing issues ranging from maternal mortality in India to access to modern contraception in the Philippines. The Center has undertaken legal research, built local capacity and undertaken advocacy at the UN in relation to numerous countries in the region including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In its first few years, the Center’s Nepal office will focus on promoting a rights-based approach to the full range of reproductive health care—including contraception, maternal health, and safe abortion—through the implementation of constitutional and other legal protections. The Nepal office will be overseen by Sonali Regmi, Regional Manager for Asia in Kathmandu, and Melissa Upreti, Regional Director for Asia in the Center’s Global Legal Program, based in New York.
“The opening of the Nepal office will allow us to work with the government, civil society, and national human rights institutions to develop and implement an array of legal strategies that will promote access to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare and the dignified treatment of women who seek these services,” said Melissa Upreti.
The breakthroughs in Nepal over the last decade have been stunning. In 2006, the Nepalese government adopted an interim constitution that established reproductive rights as fundamental rights. This set the stage for an unprecedented achievement when the Center and its partners—the Forum for Women, Law and Development, Pro-Public, and a group of human rights lawyers—drew the Supreme Court’s attention to the case of an impoverished woman named Lakshmi Dhikta. She and her husband had five children when Lakshmi became pregnant again. They couldn’t afford an abortion at the government-run hospital, and Lakshmi had to carry the pregnancy to term, risking her health and compromising the overall well-being of her family who were already struggling in the face of grinding poverty.
Nepal’s Supreme Court held the government accountable for failing to protect Lakshmi Dhikta’s health because of unaffordable abortion services, effectively violating her fundamental human rights. It insisted that the government has a constitutional obligation to guarantee women’s access to safe and affordable abortion services.
“In the past decade, we’ve worked together with stakeholders in Nepal to establish reproductive rights as fundamental human rights, both for women in Nepal and throughout the region,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “And we have seen tremendous success. Nepal now has one of the strongest constitutional protections for a woman’s right to reproductive health in the world. With the establishment of an office in Nepal, we reiterate our commitment to work with the government and partners in translating constitutional and legal protections into real change for the health, lives, and rights of women in Nepal and across Asia.”
To learn more about the Center for Reproductive Right’s work in Asia, please visit: