‘Promote Sexual & Reproductive Rights’

Amnesty International, a global human rights campaigner, has called on government to take positive actions to safeguard and promote the sexual and reproductive rights of its citizenry.

The organisation noted that the health and lives of millions of people across the globe were being threatened by governments’ failures to guarantee their sexual and reproductive rights.

“It is unbelievable that in the 21st century, some countries are condoning child marriage and marital rape while others are outlawing abortion, sex outside marriage and same-sex sexual activity – even punishable by death,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General at the launch of a global campaign on the issue.

He said States need to take positive action, not just by getting rid of oppressive laws but also promoting and protecting sexual and reproductive rights, providing information, education, services and ending impunity for sexual violence.

Records of the organisation indicate that 150 million girls today under the age of 18 have been sexually assaulted with 142 million girls likely to marry as children between 2011 and 2020.

It also indicated that 14 million adolescent girls give birth every year, mainly as a result of coerced sex and unwanted pregnancy, while 215 million women could not access contraception even though they want to stop or delay having children.

The Campaign

Amnesty International’s new campaign “My Body, My Rights” is about people being empowered to enjoy their sexuality.

It highlights the increasing repression of sexual and reproductive rights in many countries around the world that prioritizes repressive policies over human rights and basic freedoms.

It also showcases briefing points to research findings and statistics that signal a perilous future for the next generation should the world continue to turn a blind eye to the repression of sexual and reproductive rights.

The two-year campaign is, therefore, to encourage young people around the world to know and demand their right to make decisions about their health, body, sexuality and reproduction without state control, fear, coercion or discrimination.

It also seeks to remind world leaders of their obligations to take positive action, including through access to health services.

A series of reports on a number of countries where sexual and reproductive rights were denied would also be published within the course of the two-year campaign.

This includes girls forced to marry their rapists in the Maghreb; women and girls denied abortion despite the threat of ill-health and even death in El Salvador and other countries; and girls forced into childbirth at a young age in Burkina Faso.