Today there are many advances that have been achieved in the area of women’s rights. However, there is a long way to go to ensure that this is fully achieved in all countries of the world. This is especially true regarding Women’s sexual and reproductive rights. That is why today we will talk about it.
It should be noted that there are countries where cultures and their vision are very archaic and events continue to occur that at this time should not happen.
For this reason, women’s struggle to achieve and enforce women’s sexual and reproductive rights continues.
For this, women have organized and raise their voices to make themselves felt before governments in order to respect and fulfill their sexual and reproductive rights.
The world problem of women’s right violation.
In developed countries womens count with laws and mecanism to make effective them rights right. In other on-development countris is not the same situation. Sometimes women have dificults to “make real” them rights.
There are countries in which women are stalked, intimidated or fisically attacked if they try to make effective Women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
Some goverments, religious groups or political leaders try to influence womens behavior about them sexual and reproductive decisions, like having or not a child or the contraceptive usage.
Limited control about their bodies are recurrent between women in countries without strong human rights protection systems.
Numbers indicate the situation:
- 40.000 pregnant women die each year because health issues related to abortions in risky conditions.
- Each year 16 million of teenagers gave birth.This situation is mainly related to forced sexual relationships and no-dessired pregnancies.
- Between 120million and 140million women have been sexually mutilated in last years.
All indicators must lead us to a reflexion about women’s sexual and reproductive rights. This reflexion is not only for goverments and religious leaders. It is a call to all education system and cultural enviroment. All society must ask themself the next question ¿Which actions are we taken to improve this situation and reduce this numbers?The answer is very simple, we must push the goverments to apply policies that make women can excercise them rights efectively. It is not enough with “statements”. Women’s sexual and reproductive rights must be efectively excercised.
Education as a key to achive respect of women’s sexual and reproductive rights
Knowledge is power, because of that the fastest a best way to change human mind is through education. For that it is talking about women empowerment and the best tool for achive it is education. Access to education for million of women arround the world.
There are many positive effects in massive women education. Some of that are:
- Postpone maternity until reach maturity. This allow women take a concious decisión about maternity and chosse her couple.
- Choose her couple and avoid forced marriage.
- Choose her sexual orientation. This avoid future family problems and raise children in false family enviroments.
Actually, this situation is imposible in many countries, controlled by extremist positions. Therfore the importance of the efforts to spread masive education for women. This is the real source of change.
Empowerment as the key to success
Empowerment through education is key if we are to change this landscape for a medium-term future. NGOs, foundations, and activists must put pressure on governments for better opportunities for women.
Education is the main tool to observe changes in thinking and behaviors in women.
An empowered, educated, and independent woman can make great contributions to society.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy said:
“Children are the world’s most important resource and the best hope for the future”
This is one of the many reasons why children should have access to quality education, because if we empower boys and girls the future will be different. You aspire to live on a more harmonious planet.
This can only happen by educating the men and women of tomorrow with love and patience.
Undoubtedly, education is extremely relevant for the fulfillment and respect of women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
Good and healthy sex education – women’s rights
We know that the subject of sexuality is still taboo in many, if not most, countries. At this point, education plays a fundamental role in achieving a good and healthy sex education.
In principle, education begins at home, with parents. However, the reality is different because young people begin to explore on their own and often discover distorted information.
Now the school has a great responsibility to provide adequate sex education to children and adolescents.
If adequate sex education is carried out, not only is health promotion being done, but it is also preventing these people from being infected with a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy.
If things are really done right, there is no need to be calling for laws that legalize abortion.
The state must be able to provide quality health services for the population and thus complement the preventive part.
Well, the theory sounds very nice but this in many countries only stays in ink and paper.
So as parents we have a great responsibility to educate and set a good example for our children.
If this works, maternal and infant mortality figures may fall sharply.
Countries that are making progress about women’s rights.
There are countries where women excersise plenty her rights. Between this countries we can found: Portugal, Iceland, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Norwee and Finland.
We hope the rest of countries follow this examples in women’s sexual and reproductive rights:
- Reffers europe there are countries like Iceland and Sweden. This countries aproved on 2018 a law recognicing sexual violence without consent as rape. However this wasn’t product of good luck. On contrary this is product of success of feminist organizations and NGO involved in this battle.
- Later, Ireland women won a referendum to legalice abortion in the framework of women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Also in 2015 Ireland approved same-gender marriage.
- Portugal, Spain, Norway, Finland and Denmark want to modify the legislation and the definition of rape.
- If these countries can advance in favor of women’s rights, it is a great advance and an example for other nations.
What are sexual and reproductive rights?
Freedom, equality and dignity are the Human Rights that every human being counts. However in some countries these are not guaranteed.
Rights are executed by people and it is the State’s duty to guarantee and promote them through its laws and appropriate public policies.
Sexual and Reproductive Rights are part of Human Rights. Therefore they are proper to all people.
These Rights are intended to guarantee that people decide about their sexual and reproductive lives. Also that they can do it with freedom and confidence.
On the other hand, Sexual Rights refer to the freedom of people to exercise their sexuality in a healthy way. In other words, without any type of abuse, coercion, violence or discrimination.
- Sexual activity, gender identities, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.
- It is formed by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic elements, among others.
- Finally, it is experienced and expressed through ideas, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behavior, and relationships.
A point of great importance in terms of Reproductive Rights is the freedom of people to decide whether or not to have children. As well as the quantity.
Access to information and planning to do so, and contraceptive methods. In addition to validating the appropriate services on pre and post natal health services.
Types of sexual and reproductive rights
In relation to the types of sexual and reproductive rights, there are the following:
- The right to equality, the right to participation, regardless of their sex, sexuality or gender.
- Right to life, liberty, security of the person and bodily integrity. As well as the right to privacy and personal independence
- On the other hand, there is the Right to freedom of thought, expression, as well as health and education, these being fundamental in the development of society.
- The right to education and sex education itself: these rights are fundamental in the development of society. Well, a population that is educated and that has excellent health services will lead a more planned and responsible life. Undoubtedly, these are the effects of a good education and a system of government that responsibly takes care of its people.
- Those mentioned are the most important although there are many more.
Laws that are in favor and others against abortion-Sexual and Reproductive Rights in women
This is an issue that causes a lot of controversy especially at the political and religious level.
The feminist groups that have emerged are promoters of this type of law and in Argentina it has been a topic of debate.
Beyond discussing a law that supports this type of activities that violate a fundamental human right such as the right to life, they cannot be allowed except in extreme cases of health or rape.
Society, especially these minority groups of feminists should focus on having access to contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy.
In addition, to be part of teams that promote healthy and adequate sex education for children and adolescents.
In this sense, society must be very responsible when requesting the approval of laws. For this type of law is detrimental to the fulfillment of human rights, especially the right to life.
Obstacles to the exercise and protection of women’s sexual and reproductive rights
In every society there are people for and against changing the Status Quo. In that regard, women’s sexual and reproductive rights are no exception. There are many actors in society who advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive rights on their own terms. And no, we’re not just talking about men.
They are institutions that based on customs also have something to say about it. And it is that not all aspects are controversial, but others are controversial wherever you go.
One of the controversial aspects of certain positions regarding women’s sexual and reproductive health is support for abortion. Abortion is controversial because as a society and as biological beings, we are instinctively prepared to protect defenseless babies.
For some people, fetuses are not babies, but are simply fetuses. For others they are babies in formation and a growing life. Some consider it a “something” in “formation”, which can hinder the life of a full-fledged person. For others it represents a life from the moment of conception.
Both values are valid and finding a way to reconcile them is key. We know that abortion is a measure to protect women’s rights. However, pro-life groups insist on focusing efforts on measures that do not involve the death of a baby.
How to reconcile these two positions? Will it be possible to achieve a solution that binds both currents and satisfies society as a whole? Let’s hope so.
Without a doubt, these are difficult issues, but to which we must reach a consensus as a society. Next, we will talk a little about the less controversial issues, which despite this there is also great dissent in some societies.
Some less contentious issues in sexual and reproductive health
The truth is that perhaps not everyone can agree on the issue of abortion. But there are other issues that have general support. Among the less controversial topics we find:
- The right to have sexual relations consensual.
- Right to access information on sexual and reproductive health.
- The right to choose if I want to marry, when I want to marry, and who I want. Here we have controversial issues such as forced marriages.
- Decide if I want to have children and choose how many children I want to have.
- A life free from forced practices with respect to women’s sexuality. These include sexual violence and genital mutilation.
In Western countries there is a broad consensus regarding these issues. Most countries have legislation that protects women’s rights in these areas.
However, in the countries of the Middle East and Africa there is still much to be done on women’s rights.
In many of these countries, family-arranged marriages continue to be a custom. There are even women who support this custom.
In other countries, genital mutilation is also a custom that has religious and social roots. Some of the countries where this practice is maintained are: Egypt, Cameroon, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria. Many of these countries have played in World Cups and yet they continue to practice this type of “tradition”. It is even still practiced in countries considered as modern as Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Malaysia.
In the same way, the right not to have children is also nuanced by the importance of children in some societies. This is where the issue of abortion comes in. However, the aspect of abortion and children will be deepened later.
Religions and women’s sexual and reproductive rights
One of the most discussed and controversial aspects has to do with the role of religion in women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
Religion has been characterized as a strong advocate of the lives of “unborn childs”. This role has to do with the values professed, especially by the Judeo-Christian religions.
Although the role of contraceptives is recently valued, some religious still condemn them. On the other hand, religion does not weigh the value of the life of the person affected by a pregnancy.
The commandment “thou shalt not kill” is interpreted broadly. Some say you can’t kill an “unborn” and others will tell you that “it’s a life from the moment of conception.” No doubt both sides have some reason.
In some legislations, abortion is legal until the third month of gestation, for example. Recognizing that a life in formation may not be considered a full life may be part of the commitment to reaching agreements.
It would also be important to recognize the right of women to avoid pregnancy resulting from rape or forced in a relationship. Pregnancy resulting from a crime cannot be treated in the same way as a consensual relationship.
Society, and religion, have a long way to go to understand the role of life in society. You cannot submit to one life to sustain another. Life has equal value, regardless of whether it is a pregnant woman or an unborn child.
With empathy we will understand that a woman’s life can be damaged by forcing her into something that is not prepared.
But we will elaborate on this later.
Sexual and reproductive rights only for women?
Certainly, the role of women in society has been quite trampled upon. In Western countries, women have been vindicated. However, in many countries they are still subjected to forced marriages and pregnancies.
The focus on women has sidelined the discussion about men’s sexual and reproductive rights. The truth is that men also suffer sexual harassment at work.
Additionally, many times women when cutting the relationship with the man intend to cut the relationship of this with their children. Sometimes as punishment for the breakup and sometimes it’s a way to make it easier to get a new partner.
At other times women say they are using contraception to get pregnant and “catch” the man. Sexual and reproductive rights are not exclusive to women. It is important that the discussion includes men’s sexual and reproductive rights.
Next, let’s look at some of the sexual and reproductive rights of men that are violated today.
Men’s sexual and reproductive rights
- The right to continue a pregnancy, if the child is yours: Children are made between two. A man’s right to paternity is just as important as a woman’s right to her sexuality. You cannot deprive a man of his paternity because one of the parties decides so.
- The right to their own sexuality and to be free from harassment: In addition, a man is not subjected to public derision for rejecting a woman. Some women denigrate and defame men for their “lack of masculinity” for not accepting their sexual advances.
- The right to be considered innocent of a sexual charge until proven guilty: Some men have been harassed and prosecuted solely because of a woman’s complaint. It is truth that these cases are few, but the innocent suffer it at the hands of unscrupulous women.
- The right to consensual conception: Having a child is a process that involves two people. Since conception generates duties to the future child, conception must be consensual. Such rights should not be generated if the conception was carried out under deception. The typical example is a woman who deceives the man by telling him that she takes contraceptives, when she is not, to get pregnant.
- Right to participate in parenting and responsible parenting: In most cases custody of children is granted to mothers. This is a violation of the principle of non-discrimination. That is why a transformation of tradition is advocated to protect parents who wish to be part of their children’s lives.
The sexual and reproductive rights of women and men must be discussed to achieve a consensus that satisfies the whole of society.
Education to improve the situation of women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
The empowerment of women is essential for the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights. It should be noted that in many countries this is not viable due to their archaic cultures.
However, the day will come when women manage to have all their rights regardless of their geographical location.
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