Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
On November 25, 2005, the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa entered into force, after being ratified by 15 African governments. The protocol provides broad protection for women’s human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights. The treaty affirms reproductive choice and autonomy as a key human right and contains a number of global firsts. For example, it represents the first time that an international human rights instrument has explicitly articulated a woman’s right to abortion when pregnancy results from sexual assault, rape, or incest; when continuation of the pregnancy endangers the life or health of the pregnant woman; and in cases of grave fetal defects that are incompatible with life. Another first is the protocol’s call for the prohibition of harmful practices such as female circumcision/female genital mutilation (FC/FGM), which have ravaged the lives of countless young women in Africa.