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Rajshree Gautam

JWB Intern

Activist Shreejana Tells JWB Why Adoption Is Not An Alternative To Abortion

  • JWB Post
  •  December 29, 2016


Women who go for abortion are stigmatized and blamed by society for their choice. But in every bleak corner of the world, people are trying to bring about change, such is the story of Shreejana Bajracharya.

In Nepal, abortion was legalized in 2002; Shreejana has been advocating reproductive rights for women of the country for many years now. The 28-year-old is pursuing master’s degree in gender studies and alongside working with Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) and Marie Stopes International.

I talked to Shreejana on Skype. To break the ice and start the conversation, I began with the very ‘Good Morning’ question.

Me: What is your morning ritual?

Shreejana: I usually get up and do yoga to charge up. I love doing Surya Namaskar and I frequently browse for yoga videos on Youtube. After I take a bath, I make my work plan for the day.

Me: Tell us about your work with ASAP (Asia Safe Abortion Partnership).

Her: I have been working with ASAP for more than four years now. We, at ASAP, spread awareness and provide information among women of Nepal about sexual health and reproductive rights. So far we’ve achieved more than what we dreamt of. We even have been training people from Bangladesh and Pakistan on spreading awareness about reproductive rights. In 2015, I even had an opportunity of addressing a conference held in Mumbai on safe abortion by Advocacy Institute. Someone even suggested me to start blogging on the same matter. The blog gave me a wider platform to present my views.

Playing with a little pun, I asked her.

ME: While abortion was legalized in 2002 in Nepal, what do you think should be done to make the law more efficient ASAP?

Her: Well, it has been 14 years since, which in itself is the biggest achievement in the history of reproductive rights in Nepal. I think the only thing which needs to be implemented is getting rid of stigmas. Over 60% of Nepal’s women are not aware of their reproductive abortion rights. They still consider abortion as an evil thing as if it was a murder due to their religious beliefs.


Me: So what is your argument against those who announce abortion a murder?

Her: As most of the population here follow Hindu religion, they consider abortion a crime against the life. And those who want an abortion, they go to traditional healers, which is quite unsafe. These people have an argument against abortion even when young girls get pregnant. They tell adolescents that having the abortion will affect their fertility and what not. However, there is a little truth in their words. Moreover, media keeps on dramatizing news of adolescent pregnancy. My direct argument is that Abortion is clearly safe and legalized. Biologically too, this is not a murder as when pregnancy is conceived, the fetus is formed and not a complete baby. Besides, do they want to see teenagers going around with the protruding bellies?

Me: What was the story of a woman or a girl that moved your soul?

Her: On September 28, Creasion Nepal invited me to attend one of their sessions on abortion rights. There I met a woman who was sharing her story without any sigh and gloom. She said, “I conceived an unwanted pregnancy and terminated it with abortion. Contrary to the popular belief, I did not have any complication of any sort. I am healthy and happy because this is not a murder, but this is my body and my choice.” To see her sharing her story with public without any fear of being judged moved me.


Me: How does the public generally react when you advocate abortion rights?

Her: To be honest, general people have a tendency to accept anything. A few months ago, we were conducting a street play on unwanted pregnancies. The public positively accepted and they were so much receptive about the issue. Some even come to us and share their opinion and stories.

Me: Being a writer and a blogger yourself, what are your tips for journalists and writers to cover abortion without a scandalized undertone?

Her: For the starters, they should gather facts and do proper research before publishing or writing something and should be sensitive towards it. They should talk to experts of that issue. They should remove a scandal out of it and provide simple facts. I guess that would be it.

Me: What are the main challenges that Nepal is facing when it comes to access to abortion?

Her: According to the Hindu ideology, a baby is a form of God. And thus abortion is killing God himself. This belief is a big hurdle in itself. Besides that our geography is made up entirely of mountains and valleys so traveling is really very difficult. For the same reason, we have less health care facility. Women procrastinate and delay traveling to abortion centers, and that results in delayed abortion, which is harmful to health.


Me: What do you think is the one question that I missed, and you think is important to bring up?

Her: These days many organizations are coming up with their aim to promote adoption. They suggest adoption as an alternative to abortion. They encourage people to give the baby up for adoption after birth rather than going for abortion. Which seems like a good idea until women are being forced to bear the baby. People should not be influenced by such organizations. And society should respect the decision of the woman because it’s her body.

To loosen up the conversation, I moved on to asking her about her life. Meanwhile, our Dogger-in-Chief entered the room and started wagging her tail around me, and jumped up to say hi to Shreejana.

Me: Please tell us about your life and family. And also do you love dogs? 

Her: I am the eldest child in my family, and I have two siblings. I love spending time with my family whenever possible. I come from a small town of Bhaktapur near Kathmandu. And yes I love dogs. If I could, I would bring a hundred puppies in my home but sadly I will be kicked out then.

Me: Please tell us about one side of yours that was never out?

Her: (laughs) I love to gossip. At least I did till 5-6 years ago. I used to gossip a lot before with my friends but with time the things we talked about had changed. Now our gossip is more of an informative kind when we meet up.

Me: What was the biggest personal victory of 2016?

Her: I’ve got huge numbers of followers on social media. Especially on twitter and blog. And I was approached by many international agencies as well.

Me: The books you’ve discovered in 2016, that you will take into 2017 with you.

Her: I did not discover a book but I discovered something in myself that I would love to take away with me into 2017 – and that is my attitude. I’ve realized that nothing but your attitude stays there with you, even when everyone leaves.

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