Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    November 24, 2016

    By Jackie Hansen, Women’s Rights Campaigner

    Annually since 1991, women’s rights activists from around the world have joined together to take action as part of the 16 Days of Activism to end Gender-based Violence campaign. Women and girls continue to experience violence directed at them because of their gender. Indigenous women and girls experience higher rates of violence than any other group of women and girls in Canada. The federal government has launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This is a laudable effort and one that Indigenous womens’ organizations, Amnesty International and many others long called for, but action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls must not be delayed until the Inquiry finishes its work two years from now.

    May 06, 2016

    Amnesty campaigner Karen Javorski takes us inside one of El Salvador’s most notorious prisons to meet Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and María Teresa Rivera, women jailed after pregnancy complications.

    Teodora shares a cell with 70 other women. For María Teresa, it is 250. Cramped together like this, the women often have to sleep on the floor under the building’s hot tin roofs.

    This is Ilopango prison on the outskirts of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador. I’m here with my Amnesty colleagues, and our local partners, to visit Teodora del Carmen Vásquez and others from “Las 17”, a group of Salvadoran women who are in prison after suffering pregnancy-related complications.

    The women speak to us in an outdoor area just beyond the prison patio– the only place we are allowed to enter. The heat is intense and the mosquitos swarm, but at least we can catch the breeze outside. Inside, as Teodora and María Teresa tell us, it’s a different story: severe overcrowding, intense heat and strict rules that are both impractical and cruel. And yet you wouldn’t know it from the building’s fairly nondescript exterior.

    March 17, 2016
    St Patrick’s Day is when we celebrate all that is great about Ireland – we can now add the Irish public’s support for wider access to abortion.

    Today, people all over the world are marking St Patrick’s Day and honouring what it means to be Irish. The Eiffel Tower is glowing green in France and in the USA, President Obama is hosting the Irish Prime Minister at the White House’s annual celebration.

    March 06, 2016

    The statistics tell a sobering tale. Burkina Faso has the 7th highest rate of child marriage in the world. More than half of all women were married before the age of 18 and 10% before age 15. Some girls as young as 11 are forced into marriage. Burkina Faso also has one of the world’s lowest rates ofcontraceptive use – only 17% of women. Many are denied contraception or use it in secret, out of fearof their husbands or in-laws.The end result is that by the time they are 19 years old, most girls are married, and nearly half of them are already mothers. They are raising children when they are still children themselves, in a country withone of the highest rates of maternal death in the world.

    TAKE ACTION to end early and forced marriage in Burkina Faso.

    March 05, 2016

    International Women’s Day, March 8, is a rallying point for feminists worldwide. Established by the United Nations in 1975, it is a day to celebrate women’s achievements while highlighting remaining gender inequalities. But 41 years later, is it still necessary?

    YES! Women and girls may have scaled unimaginable heights in politics, science, arts, sports and business, but gender equality is not yet a reality anywhere in the world. Here are eight reasons why International Women’s Day is still so needed.

    July 22, 2015
    If you’re a girl in Burkina Faso, chances are your childhood won’t last long. Forced early marriage is common, as is early pregnancy.

    If you’re a woman, you may be denied contraception, simply because you don’t have your husband’s permission. And if you do manage to get contraception, you may be forced to use it in secret for fear of being accused of adultery by your partner or in-laws.

    If you’re a rape survivor, pregnant as a result of that assault, you must pay for your own emergency medical care – something that is out of reach for most victims.

    It’s an unsustainable situation. Burkina Faso’s girls want their childhoods back. Their mothers, aunts and sisters are fed up of being side-lined from the decisions that affect their lives. Stand with them today.

    May 27, 2015

    To mark the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28, Paul Hunt, former UN expert on the right to health, tells us about one special girl who inspired his work.

    About a decade ago, I travelled to the north of Uganda, still a conflict-zone at that time. Accompanied by soldiers, we went off the beaten track to a sprawling, dusty camp for internally displaced people (IDP).

    There I met someone who symbolized the deep injustice that arises when health-rights are denied. About 14 years old, she was sitting outside her small hut where she lived with her family. Some of her limbs were huge and sharply disproportionate to the rest of her body. She was suffering from a severely disfiguring disease called lymphatic filariasis – commonly known as elephantiasis.

    She explained that she went to school but was mocked and bullied. She could not stand the abuse so she left school. This teenage girl was the victim of multiple human rights abuses: of the rights to health, education, and equality.

    May 20, 2015

    Open letter from Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, to the President of the Republic of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes

    Mr. President,

    Amnesty International, a worldwide movement that campaigns for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all, is deeply concerned about the situation of a 10-year-old girl reportedly raped by her stepfather and pregnant as a result. The pregnancy was detected three weeks ago and yet the state continues to violate her human rights without offering her the possibility of an abortion.

    To allow this girl who is just 10 years old to continue with her pregnancy is clearly cruel. Mr. President, the future of this girl is in your hands.

    May 15, 2015

    By Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director Americas Program Amnesty International.

    Every now and then there comes along a case that seems too tragic to comprehend -- where cruelty from one individual to another is compounded and amplified by a callous governmental response. That is how I feel about the case of a 10-year-old pregnant girl, who was raped by her step-father, only to find the Paraguayan authorities are denying her the option of an abortion.

    It is a story that has attracted attention from all over the world, with many shocked that a young child could be treated in such a way by her own government, which is supposed to protect her.

    According to the World Health Organization child pregnancies are extremely dangerous for the health of young girls as they can lead to complications and death in some cases, especially as their bodies are “not fully developed to carry a pregnancy.” This 10 year old girl is facing a great risk to her life and physical and psychological health, both in the short, medium and long term.

    April 08, 2015

    by Kristin Hulaas Sunde, editor of Wire magazine for @AmnestyOnline

    Amnesty activists took action for Chelsea Manning an incredible 241,289 times – including by sending her over 17,000 letters and cards – during our global Write for Rights campaign last December.

    In return, the former army intelligence analyst sent us this message of thanks from her prison cell in Kansas, USA, where she is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks.

    Chelsea’s letter to Amnesty's activists worldwide:

    I wanted to thank all of you so very much for your actions of support and solidarity. I understand that over 200,000 actions were taken - that’s absolutely incredible!

    I am also so grateful for all the heartfelt support from the tens of thousands of people out there who took the time to write to me and the President [Barack Obama, asking him to pardon and release her].

    April 01, 2015

    By Elise Auerbach, AIUSA

    As if it weren’t bad enough. Iranian women face persistent systemic discrimination in terms of family law. New legislation being considered by Iran’s parliament is intended to roll back many of the gains women have made in the past decades and consign them to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

    And on top of that, if they dare to protest about the inequities they suffer, they are sentenced to long prison terms, to be served in prisons where unsanitary conditions and medical neglect can quickly undermine their health.

    March 11, 2015

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner

    Campaigning against laws in Iran which discriminate against women and girls has just gotten a whole lot harder for Bahareh Hedayat and other activists with the Campaign for Equality, as Iran moves to enact laws set to turn Iranian women and girls into baby-making machines. Bahareh is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for her peaceful activism in support of gender equality.

    March 09, 2015

    By Stella Jegher, Amnesty International Switzerland

    This International Women’s Day, we look back 20 years to a historic UN meeting in Beijing that saw world leaders make bold commitments to women’s rights. Stella Jegher, Chair of the Amnesty International Women’s Human Rights Network, sheds light on how Amnesty made a difference to the debate then – and continues to do so now.

    Twenty years ago, in the autumn of 1995, the city of Beijing witnessed a historic moment for women’s rights: People from all over the world travelled to China for the UN's fourth World Conference on Women. Five thousand government delegates from 189 countries, thousands of journalists and over four thousand NGO representatives gathered for the official Conference in Beijing.

    Fifty kilometres away in the town of Houairou, 35,000 people met at the largest ever NGO meeting on women's human rights. As one of the NGOs allowed to attend both meetings, Amnesty was able to bring the demands of women's organizations in Houairou to the UN conference in Beijing.

    March 09, 2015

    By Dr. Renu Adhikari, Nepal

    Yesterday, the world celebrated International Women's Day. Today, world leaders descend on the United Nations in New York to take stock of how much they have achieved in the 20 years since a historic meeting in Beijing, where they promised to protect and promote the rights of women and girls everywhere. Dr Renu Adhikari will be among the many activists in New York. She tells us what progress she’s seen over the last two decades.

    I have worked on women’s rights for the last 24 years in Nepal. I started out working on trafficking and HIV. I had met a girl who had been trafficked and her story made me re-think whether I should continue being a medical doctor or do something in women’s rights. At that time, I had no idea what an NGO was. Still, in 1991 I created the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) out of my passion for women’s rights.

    March 05, 2015

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director, Amnesty International

    Last month in El Salvador, a young woman walked free after nearly a decade behind bars. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana was just 18 when, in 2008, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Her crime? Having a miscarriage.

    El Salvador has one of the world’s most draconian abortion statutes. It criminalizes abortion on all grounds, including when the mother’s life or health is in danger, and in cases of rape. Women and girls cannot access an abortion even if continuing their pregnancy will kill them, or if their fetuses are not viable.

    Those who defy the law and seek unsafe, clandestine abortions face horrifying consequences: The World Health Organization in 2008 reported that 9 percent of maternal deaths in Central America are due to such procedures.

    Generally, wealthier Salvadorans can pay for private services or seek adequate medical care abroad. Most frequently, the law’s victims are patients in the country’s public clinics where doctors, fearing criminal prosecution, call the police when a woman arrives in pain.

    Pages