Prakash Mani Sharma for Pro Public and Others v. Government of Nepal (2008)

In 2007, Pro-Public, a human rights organization, filed a public interest writ petition raising the issue of lack of adequate measures by the government in preventing and providing health care services for uterine prolapse. The petition argued that despite the Constitutional recognition of reproductive health as a woman’s fundamental right, studies revealed that approximately 600,000 Nepali women are suffering from different types of uterine prolapse and among these women, approximately 200,000 need immediate treatment. However, effective programs have not been initiated by the State for the prevention and treatment of uterus prolapse.

The petition sought directive orders to the government to:

  • provide free counseling, treatment, and health care services for prevention and treatment of uterine prolapse throughout the country via community outreach clinics and subsequently submit a periodic report of the actions taken to the Court;
  • draft a reproductive health rights bill
  • form a special committee under the coordination of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, comprising of representatives from relevant ministries and organizations involved in women’s health issue and, based on the committee’s recommendation, issue appropriate orders to the government; and
  • implement public awareness campaigns on uterine prolapse as women’s reproductive health problem through national media.

Uterine prolapse has been one of the causes of poor health among women in Nepal; however, the state failed to pay attention to this issue until it was questioned by the Court. The recognition of reproductive health rights as fundamental rights by the Interim Constitution of Nepal in 2007 provided an opportunity to raise this issue for judicial scrutiny. In this case, the Supreme Court recognized uterine prolapse as a human rights issue with implications for women’s fundamental rights and ordered the government to increase public awareness about women’s reproductive rights, implement policies to address the high prevalence of uterine prolapse, and draft a reproductive health bill. As a result, the government launched initiatives to prevent uterine prolapse, including by providing subsidies for corrective treatment and for organizing mobile camps to perform uterine prolapse surgeries. In May 2014, the government also adopted a Procedural Guidelines on Prevention and Treatment of Women’s Uterine Prolapse. While the reproductive health rights bill is yet to be tabled, the process of drafting the bill has been initiated in Nepal, which is a progressive step.