Pakistan Addresses High Rate of Fistula

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The high court in Pakistan’s Sindh region is facing the country’s first case to seek recognition of the widespread incidence of obstetric fistula as a violation of women’s fundamental rights to dignity and life. The court has called for the formation of a committee of health experts to address this debilitating health issue. The development was reported in Pakistan’s Express Tribune.

Obstetric fistula—most often caused by prolonged, obstructed labor that is not addressed by prompt obstetric care—occurs when a hole opens between the birth canal and the rectum or bladder. It causes the constant, uncontrollable leaking of urine or feces. With proper treatment, the devastating condition can be fully repaired.

According to a petition developed by the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI)—a partnership spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights that brings together lawyers in South Asia to promote legal accountability strategies to address ongoing violations of women’s reproductive rights across the region—obstetric fistula affects approximately 5,000 poor, rural, and marginalized women and girls across Pakistan who face barriers in accessing timely, quality obstetric care.