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Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    June 10, 2015

    The African Union must emphasise the obligation of its member states to promote, protect, and fulfil sexual and reproductive rights, including universal access to sexual and reproductive health, Amnesty International said today as the 25th AU summit got underway in Johannesburg, with a focus on “Women Empowerment and Development towards Agenda 2063.”

    The organisation believes that universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, reduce poverty and achieve the development goals of both the post-2015 agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063

    “The AU has made welcome commitments to campaign to end child marriage, and the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality in Africa. However, women and girls, in particular those living in poverty and in conflict, face multiple barriers to accessing the sexual and reproductive health-related information and services they need, putting their lives at risk,” said Louise Carmody, Researcher for Amnesty International.

    June 09, 2015

    Pregnant women and girls risk putting their health and lives in danger if they remain in Ireland, Amnesty International said today in a report on the country’s abortion law.

    The report  She is not a criminal: The Impact of Ireland’s abortion law documents shocking cases of Irish authorities denying women and girls necessary healthcare in order to prioritize the life of the foetus – which is protected by an amendment to Ireland’s constitution added in 1983.

    May 28, 2015

    From a raped 10-year-old girl denied an abortion in Paraguay, to women imprisoned in El Salvador after having a miscarriage, millions of women and girls all over Latin America are suffering because of outdated and discriminatory abortion laws and policies, said Amnesty International.

    “Today, on the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, from the Caribbean to South America countless women and girls are suffering terribly from cruel and draconian laws and policies that violate their human right to make choices about their own bodies, health and lives,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Sadly there is still a long way to go.  Earlier this week, Peru’s Justice Commission in Congress let rape victims down by passing up the chance to ensure women and girls that are victims of rape have the option to access safe and legal abortion services.

    “In Paraguay the future of a 10-year-old girl still hangs in the balance.

    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.

    May 08, 2015

    The clock is ticking and Paraguayan authorities are still not ensuring that all options are available for a raped 10-year-old girl, including safe abortion services, Amnesty International and a group of national and international human rights organizations said today.

    “The world is now watching Paraguay. We are calling on authorities there to show humanity and respect the dignity and wishes of this young girl and her mother. To do anything else would be a clear breach of international human rights law and a violation of this young girl’s rights,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International, after more than 150,000 of its members and supporters worldwide signed a petition to support the girl getting access to all medical options.  

    A few days ago a judicial order set up an interdisciplinary panel to assess the young girl.

    April 29, 2015

    Failure by the Paraguayan authorities to provide a safe abortion to a 10-year-old rape survivor could have devastating consequences on her health and will heap injustice on tragedy, said Amnesty International today. The organization is now calling on the government to intervene to ensure the girl gets all the medical treatment she requires, including the termination of the unwanted pregnancy.

    In Paraguay, abortion is only permitted when the life of the woman or girl is at risk. In any other circumstances, even if pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or when the foetus has a severe malformation, abortion is not permitted. This restrictive abortion law is in violation of international law.

    “The physical and psychological impact of forcing this young girl to continue with an un-wanted pregnancy is tantamount to torture. The Paraguayan authorities cannot sit idly by while this young rape-survivor is forced to endure more agony and torment,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Forcing this child to carry a baby to term, against her will, could have devastating health consequences.”

    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 18, 2015

    El Salvador’s government must take the opportunity to reform its draconian abortion law, said Amnesty International today as the country responds to a series of recommendations, mostly relating to abortion and gender discrimination, during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    "El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world, criminalizing abortion on all grounds, even when a woman or girl’s life or health is in danger and even in cases of rape and incest. This restrictive law has put women and girls at the brink of death,” said Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara Rosas.

    “El Salvador is expected to accept its duty to provide access to sexual health services and contraception, as recommended by states at the UN. We would welcome that step forward. But picking and choosing which recommendations to follow may leave in place a total ban on abortion. Dozens of women are in jail for pregnancy-related complications, some of them facing up to 40 years behind bars.”

    March 11, 2015

    Iran’s Parliament is in the process of adopting two bills—Bill 446 and Bill 315—that threaten to send Iran back several decades to a precarious time for women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.

    Since 2012, Iran has eliminated funding for the state Family and Population Planning Program, which oversaw the delivery of family planning and reproductive health services, including free condoms and modern contraceptives across the country. These initiatives are part of a misguided plan to accelerate population growth and, if continued, they will leave women and girls in Iran with a future shaped by increased inequality, discrimination, poor health, limited choices, and restricted freedoms.

    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 10, 2015

    Women in Iran could face significant restrictions on their use of contraceptives and be further excluded from the labour market unless they have had a child, if two proposed laws are approved, says a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    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.

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