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Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    March 22, 2013

    A new law passed by the Indian Parliament aimed at addressing sexual violence, while positive in some respects, has several deficiencies and also violates India’s international law obligations, Amnesty International said.

    The upper house of the Indian Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 on 21 March 2013, meaning that the law will come into effect once it is signed by the President.

    The lower house approved the law two days earlier, with less than half of its members present and voting.

    “The new law does have some welcome features,” said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India. “It commendably criminalizes several forms of violence against women including acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism. It is more sensitive to the needs of disabled persons, provides for certain victim-friendly evidentiary procedures and removes the requirement of government permission for prosecution of public servants accused of rape and some forms of sexual violence.

    March 19, 2013

    A ruling by the Philippines’ Supreme Court to halt a new law on reproductive health is a leap backwards for human rights in the country, Amnesty International said.  

    The Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health, known as the RH Law, provides for access to contraception and reproductive health information for adults.

    It came into force in January 2013, amid opposition from Catholic clergy. The Supreme Court, however, has now delayed its implementation pending a new hearing on 18 June.  

    “The law is a historical milestone in the protection of women’s rights in the Philippines as it strikes down some longstanding barriers for women’s access to sexual and reproductive health,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “It is disappointing that there is another delay in protecting these basic human rights.”

    The RH Law does not merely focus on fertility-related concerns, but also addresses HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and menopausal and post-menopausal conditions.  

    Ireland must ensure that its domestic law and policy on access to abortion is in line with international human rights law, said Amnesty International today (17.11.2012).

    The organization – which has written to Irish Minister for Health James Reilly - is concerned the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar illustrates a gap in Irish law and policy on the most basic human rights level - that is a woman’s right to access abortion where her life is at risk.

    This right has already been established as a Constitutional principle by the Irish Supreme Court Amnesty International also expressed its concern about the lack of clarity as to whether or not a specific legislative framework is required.

    “International human rights law is clear about the right of a woman to access a safe and legal abortion where her life is at risk,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland.

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