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Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    February 20, 2014

    Widespread and systemic gender discrimination in Nepal has led to hundreds of thousands of women suffering from a reproductive health condition that leaves them in great pain, unable to carry out daily tasks and often ostracized from their families and communities, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Uterine prolapse – a debilitating condition where the uterus descends from its normal position into the vagina - is rooted in discrimination that has severely limited the ability of women and girls to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives. Harsh working environments, early marriages and having too many children all contribute to the condition.

    “This is an urgent human rights issue. Widespread uterine prolapse in Nepal goes back to the ingrained discrimination against women and girls that successive governments have failed to tackle adequately,” said Madhu Malhotra, Director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Identity and Sexuality and Identity Programme.

    August 21, 2013

    A flogging sentence against a 15-year-old rape victim in Maldives has been annulled, but the girl should never have been prosecuted at all, Amnesty International said.

    A Maldives High Court today quashed a sentence of 100 lashes and house arrest against a 15-year old girl for the “offence” of extra-marital sex. The girl, who was convicted of “fornication” in February this year, had reportedly also been sexually abused repeatedly by her step father.

    “Annulling this sentence was of course the right thing to do. We are relieved that the girl will be spared this inhumane ‘punishment’ based on an outrageous conviction, which we hope has also been quashed,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “No one should ever be prosecuted for sex outside marriage in the first place. And victims of sexual abuse need counselling, not punishment. The government must make sure that she has continuing access to appropriate support services.

    June 28, 2013
    We’re deep in Pride season here in Canada. People are out and loud and proud and celebrating. But in many parts of the world, simply the perception that a person is LGBTI can lead to insecurity, lengthy prison sentences, or worse. This week Amnesty International released a report on rising homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa. It documents policies that criminalize same sex conduct, and practices that make being out and proud dangerous—even in places like South Africa, which has anti-discrimination laws and marriage equality.

    Here are the stories of some of the brave LGBTI activists in sub-Saharan who at great personal risk agreed to be interviewed by Amnesty International for this report:

    May 30, 2013

    Yesterday's decision by the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court of Justice to deny Beatriz her appeal for access to a therapeutic abortion is "shameful and discriminatory", Amnesty International said.

    “This decision violates Beatriz's human rights" said Esther Major, Amnesty International's researcher on El Salvador.

    “To have subjected Beatriz to this lengthy drawn-out process, taking seven weeks to come to a decision which affects a person whose life is in imminent danger, is cruel, inhumane and degrading".

    The Court has also ordered the health authorities to "continue monitoring the petitioner's state of health and to provide her with the..appropriate...treatment...[since] professionals are the only ones with the knowledge and necessary alleviate their patients' suffering and address any complications which may arise..."

    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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