The second in a series of workshops on reproductive health rights, led by the Da Bindu Collective, will be held on March 19. The first workshop was held in Katunayake targeting workers of free trade zones. Paba Deshapriya of Grassroots Trust is contributing as a resource person to this series. The second workshop to be held in Negombo is expected to educate civil society members. Purpose of this is to create a network of facilitators to provide counseling services to free trade zone workers on issues related to reproductive health and related rights.
Explaining the objectives, Chamila Thushari of the Da Bindu Collective said that there are serious reproductive health issues associated with the free trade zone. “Teenage girls like the ages of 18 and 19 are prone to miscarriages due to misunderstandings when they enter the trade zone. That number is higher in this region than the number of pregnancies reported per year in a village. Women are abused by those close to them. Some girls are staying together with men without getting married. ” Chamila points out that awareness of reproductive health rights is an urgent need.
Many girls of free trade zones do not have the opportunity to get a nutritious diet and it poses an unnecessary risk during pregnancy. It has been revealed that 60 percent of women workers in the garment industry currently suffer from anemia. They have not much opportunities to seek advice and services from government agencies, such as the Office of the Medical Officer of Health, about their reproductive health. That is because the Sunday on which factory leave is granted is a day when government institutions are closed.