Resolution on violations and threats weighing on the sexual and reproductive rights of women

Press release
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Presented by l’Association Tunisienne Des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD)

he International Federation for Human Rights, at its 39th Congress:

Considering that the 9 June 2016 decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council stating that the Irish legislation prohibiting and criminalising recourse to abortion in cases of lethal fetal abnormalities violates the human rights of women;
Considering that the historic ruling of the United State Supreme Court of 27 June 2016 declaring that a Texas law limiting the number of clinics authorised to practice abortions is an unjustified obstacle to the constitutional right of women to seek abortion [1], and that in developing countries, each year close to 7 million women are treated for complications connected to clandestine unsafe abortions, and at least 22,000 of them die from abortion-related complications [2];
Recalling that furthermore these penal and other restrictions are not effective since the abortion rate is not significantly different in countries that forbid VIP and countries that allow it [3];
Recalling that undesired pregnancies have devastating psychological consequences and effects on health, especially for young girls whose bodies are not mature enough to endure pregnancy and childbirth;
- Considering the Zika virus epidemic that has been plaguing the Americas since April 2015 and has been leading to foetal microcephaly and delayed intra-uterine foetal cerebral development and recalling the public health urgency to authorise women’s access to contraception and abortion in times of epidemics such as this one;
Denouncing the offensives against women’s reproductive and sexual rights conducted by conservative and religious groups, often supported for political reasons by governments working to stay in power by catering to the most conservative forces;
Regretting that defenders of sexual and reproductive rights encounter strong resistance, sometimes even threats, smear campaigns, harassment or violence on the grounds that they are promoting the West’s agenda, betraying their country by trying to prevent births, or attacking “the right to life of the unborn child”;
Alarmed at the policy of some countries that encourage the banning of abortions by refusing to earmark any development aid for the financing of VIPs;
1. Asserts that respect for and enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights are essential to guarantee women’s rights, in particular, their right to health, life and non-discrimination and their full participation in public and political life under conditions equal to those of men, in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
2. Condemns all violation of reproductive and sexual rights and harmful practices aimed at controlling women’s sexuality, and especially female genital mutilation ;
3. Calls upon the States to withdraw legal restrictions and others that limit the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights and to take measures to guarantee, without discrimination, the availability, accessibility and quality of acceptable and affordable family planning, contraception and abortion services taking account the needs of the vulnerable female population;
4. Urges the States to guarantee the protection of sexual and reproductive rights defenders against all forms of harassment and repression in order to enable them to exercise their legal, peaceful human rights defence activities in compliance with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998 [4];
5. Calls on the States to ratify the regional instruments on this matter, e.g. the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa;
6. Calls on the States to adopt an approach to development aid that is based on fundamental rights which do not include restrictions to abortion;
7. Calls for mobilisation for the respect of reproductive and sexual rights of women and of the recognition of these rights both in law and in practice.

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