Fighting for Abortion Rights in Bangladesh: Interview with lawyer Syeda Nasrin

syeda nasrin

Meet Syeda Nasrin, Bangladeshi Supreme Court lawyer, who is determined to legalize abortion in her country. Unfazed by the threats, she is committed to ensure abortion is recognized as a human right. 

According to the Penal Code of Bangladesh, abortion is illegal, except if it is done to save a woman’s life. Syeda Nasrin filed a petition in the Bangladesh High Court arguing that sections of the British colonial-era Penal Code contradict articles of the constitution.

She alleged that those sections violate constitutional rights to life, body, privacy, liberty and freedom of choice, adding that giving birth to a child and accepting motherhood constitute essential parts of these rights.

The High Court bench of judges Tariq-ul-Hakim and S.M. Kuddus Zaman issued a ruling on Aug. 18 2020 asking why abortion-related sections in the Penal Code of 1860 should not be declared illegal as these conflict with fundamental rights guaranteed in Bangladesh’s 1972 constitution.

Her petition has motivated and brought hope to the young people and women's rights organizations in the country fighting for reproductive freedom. 

IPPF spoke with Dr Syeda Nasrin to learn more about the petition and the support she requires to take this matter to the highest court.  Watch her interview