Women’s rights face global pushback from conservativism, fundamentalism – UN experts warn

Women's rights face global pushback from conservativism, fundamentalism – UN experts warn
22 June 2018

Women’s rights are under threat from a “backlash” of conservatism and fundamentalism around the world, a United Nation panel warned on Friday.

“Alarming pushbacks have been progressing across regions of the globe”, through what the Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice described as “alliance of conservative political ideologies and religious fundamentalisms,” in its report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Practices such as polygamy, child marriage, female genital mutilation, so-called honour killings, and criminalizing women for sexual and reproductive behavior, have no place in any society,” said a statement from the working group, adding that “there is no acceptable justification for waiting for the elimination of discrimination against women.”

Continued: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/06/1012892

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Advocates make progress on access to safe abortion in humanitarian crises

Advocates make progress on access to safe abortion in humanitarian crises

By Sophie Edwards
29 November 2017

LONDON — Advocates campaigning for refugees to have access to safe abortion in humanitarian settings say they have made major progress at a recent high-level meeting — but they added that “political sensitivities” among countries and some United Nations agencies are holding back efforts to get the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services to those who need them.

Some experts also warned that pushing the abortion agenda could derail efforts to reach refugees in some settings and distract from more immediately urgent obstetric needs.

Continued at source: https://www.devex.com/news/advocates-make-progress-on-access-to-safe-abortion-in-humanitarian-crises-91554

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Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women’s rights

Families, fertility and feminism: landmarks in women's rights

Women have fought long and hard to secure access to family planning and abortion, and reduce maternal mortality. A modern timeline of that struggle tells a story full of highs and lows

by Liz Ford
Thursday 27 July 2017

Women have been joining forces to agitate for their right to a better life for centuries, but some of the most significant changes have occurred over the past four decades.

It has been a journey of big leaps, small steps and setbacks. Four international women’s conferences, a bunch of UN resolutions and two sets of global goals have all played their part.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jul/27/families-fertility-feminism-landmarks-in-womens-rights-timeline

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Irish abortion law violated woman’s human rights, UN says

Irish abortion law violated woman’s human rights, UN says

Siobhan Whelan forced to travel to UK for abortion after fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis

June 13, 2017
Paul Cullen

A United Nations committee has found Ireland violated the human rights of a woman who had to travel to Britain for an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.
The UN human rights committee has told the State to pay compensation to the woman, Siobhan Whelan, and to provide psychological treatment to her.

Continued at source: Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/irish-abortion-law-violated-woman-s-human-rights-un-says-1.3118145

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UN repeats criticism of Ireland’s ‘cruel and inhumane’ abortion laws

UN repeats criticism of Ireland's 'cruel and inhumane' abortion laws

Committee finds in favour of Siobhán Whelan, who was denied a termination despite fatal foetal syndrome diagnosis

Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent

Tuesday 13 June 2017

The United Nations has again ruled that Ireland’s abortion laws have subjected a woman to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

It is the second time in 12 months that the UN’s human rights committee has denounced the abortion rules in the Irish Republic, which denies women with fatal foetal abnormalities the right to terminate pregnancies.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/13/un-denounces-ireland-abortion-laws-as-cruel-and-inhumane-again

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UN highlights the shame of Ireland’s harsh abortion laws

UN highlights the shame of Ireland’s harsh abortion laws
13 June 2017

A ruling issued today by the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) that Ireland’s harsh abortion laws violated the human rights of an Irish woman is yet another reminder of the desperate need for reform, Amnesty International said.

The UNHRC ordered that Ireland redress the harm it caused to Siobhán Whelan, who was forced to travel to the UK for an abortion in 2010, including by reforming its abortion laws to prevent similar violations happening to other women.

“This is the second case within a year where the UN has found Ireland’s abortion laws to be grossly out of step with its international human rights obligations. While we welcome this ruling, it is outrageous that women have to go to the UN to have their human rights respected. How many more women will have to suffer before the Irish government opens its eyes?” said Gauri Van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

Continued at source: Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/un-highlights-the-shame-of-irelands-harsh-abortion-laws/

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UN mourns passing of population agency chief Babatunde Osotimehin, ‘a champion of health for all’

UN mourns passing of population agency chief Babatunde Osotimehin, 'a champion of health for all'

5 June 2017 – Secretary-General António Guterres and other senior United Nations officials have paid tribute to Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who passed away suddenly this morning at the age of 68.

“Dr. Osotimehin was admired globally for his leadership of the UN Population Fund and for his forceful advocacy for the world's women and girls in particular,” said Secretary-General Guterres in a statement.

“The world has lost a great champion of health and well-being for all.”

Continued at source: United Nations: https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56906

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On World Day of Social Justice, why is access to safe abortion a social justice issue?

On World Day of Social Justice, why is access to safe abortion a social justice issue?
by Safe Abortion
Feb 19, 2017

A socially just society is one where human rights are manifest and in which opportunities, wealth and privilege are equally distributed. The United Nations World Day of Social Justice site says that social justice struggles are those that “remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”

Abortion is a social justice issue in that criminalising, restricting or stigmatising abortion creates barriers that women with unwanted pregnancies face in exercising body autonomy. Often these barriers are even greater for women of colour, young  women and poor women.

Specifically, the human rights outlined in Articles 3,4, and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are denied or violated when access to safe abortion is restricted.

Article 3, “Right to life, liberty and security of person”, is denied to women whose pregnancies present a serious risk to their lives in countries where abortion is illegal with no exceptions. These include El Salvador, Malta, Vatican, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Even in countries where abortion is allowed under limited conditions, women’s lives, liberty and security are often placed at risk because the restrictions mean that few legal abortions are in fact provided. Criminalising abortion does not decrease the incidence of abortion; instead, it increases the incidence of unsafe abortion as women are forced to seek services that are extra-legal and may be unsafe. Restrictions on abortion almost always affect poor and young women disproportionately as wealthier women can afford to pay  for safe care.

Article 4 says, “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude”. Forcing women to continue pregnancies that they do not want, have children and become mothers is a form of forced labour. The day that was chosen as the international day of action for the decriminalisation of abortion in 1990, 28 September, was historically the Day of the Free Womb, the day on which the children born to slave mothers in Brazil were freed in 1871. The decriminalisation of abortion is still called for every year on 28 September,  as International Safe Abortion Day. While most women do have children at some moment in their lives, it must be up to the individual  to decide whether, when and how many children to have. To force women to have children they do not wish to have is a form of slavery.

Finally denial of access to abortion goes against Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Report of Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, presented to the Human Rights Council’s 31st session in 2016, included the following:

Where access to abortion is restricted by law, maternal mortality increases as women are forced to undergo clandestine abortions in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. Short- and long-term physical and psychological consequences also arise due to unsafe abortions and when women are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will (A/66/254). Such restrictive policies disproportionately impact marginalized and disadvantaged women and girls. Highly restrictive abortion laws that prohibit abortions even in cases of incest, rape or fetal impairment or to safeguard the life or health of the woman violate women’s right to be free from torture and ill-treatment (A/HRC/22/53, CEDAW/C/OP.8/PHL/1). 

The denial of safe, legal abortion is denial of human rights. This is why access to abortion is a social justice issue. Every woman with an unwanted pregnancy should have the right to a safe abortion, without discrimination, barriers or restrictions.

Image credit: © Andrea Pippins

To create this piece, Andrea Pippins was inspired by the Tuskuteesh movement and their efforts to break the silence surrounding all kinds of sexual violence against Arab women. Source: AWID

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/blog/world-social-justice-day/

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El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion

El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion
Some Women Accused of Having Abortions Convicted of Murder, Sentenced to 40 Years

by Sarah Taylor
February 16, 2017

In 2013, the life of “Beatriz,” a 22-year-old woman in El Salvador, was put in grave danger as a result of her pregnancy. But abortion is illegal in El Salvador. Trying to save her own life, Beatriz took her case to the Supreme Court – after all, her doctors deemed the medical procedure necessary for her to live – but the court ruled she could not have an abortion. Even the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights intervened, but it was not enough. Beatriz’s health deteriorated; the government delayed. Finally, Beatriz underwent an emergency Caesarean section, and the baby died several hours later. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, she has continued to have health consequences from the ordeal.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/16/el-salvador-should-decriminalize-abortion

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UN Human Rights Council says: reduce maternal mortality and amend the abortion law in Uganda

by Safe Abortion, Nov 25, 2016

Among the recommendations the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) members made to the government of Uganda as part of its review of the country’s human rights record this year was one to revise its abortion legislation.

The Ugandan Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted a shadow letter in March 2016 to the HRC review in which they called for greater attention to all aspects of maternal mortality and morbidity and showed why less improvement has occurred than is hoped for. They also discussed the criminalization of abortion and other reproductive health services as a barrier that interferes with access to safe health care services. They also said: “While the Ugandan government has ratified the Maputo Protocol and has repeatedly recognized unsafe abortion as a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity, the government has entered a reservation on this article which would have expanded access to safe abortion. They also expressed concern about the ambiguity and misinformation surrounding the legality of abortion and post-abortion services.

Under Ugandan law, they say, “abortion is permitted only to preserve the life, mental and physical health of the pregnant woman. However, the Ministry of Health’s National Guidelines and Services Standards for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights expands grounds for permitting legal abortion to include cases such as sexual violence and incest and outlines comprehensive abortion and post-abortion care standards. The narrow interpretation of abortion laws by the courts and other government bodies, as well as extremely restricted access to relevant information, have resulted in misinformation about the legality of abortion among the general public, health care providers, law enforcement officers, the judiciary, and regulators… The ambiguity in the law further deters health care professionals from providing safe abortion services… [Yet] most doctors and other trained providers mistakenly believe that there is a complete prohibition on abortion. Due to this, they are reluctant to provide the comprehensive services outlined in the Reproductive Health Guidelines for fear of being subjected to criminal liability.”

In June 2015, the Ugandan Ministry of Health issued “Standards & Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Uganda,” which contains “practical and standardized information to various stakeholders from a range of sectors that will help reduce morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion.” However, the publication was delayed until recently.

The Ugandan government supported a number of recommendations made at the HRC review, including that they should strengthen measures to fight against maternal mortality and morbidity with a human rights-based approach, ensure a sufficient health budget and full and equal access to health services. They said there was support for strengthening measures to address maternal deaths and ensuring access to reproductive health services, but that abortion law reform was not a priority.

SOURCE: CEHURD Shadow Letter, March 2016 ; Center for Reproductive Rights, 15 November 2016 ; VISUAL

[continued at link]

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

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