Strengthening the Protection of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the African Region Through Human Rights
The human rights relating to sexual and reproductive health typify unmet human rights needs in the African region. Despite drawing sustenance from international human rights jurisprudence, their realisation at a domestic level is often precarious. In developing countries, especially, the domestic political, legal, economic, social and policy environment has often appeared particularly unwilling to yield to the imperatives of respecting sexual and reproductive health and rights in all their manifestations. In the African region, there are good reasons to take the challenge of realising rights for protecting sexual and reproductive health seriously. There is ample evidence to suggest that such rights are being denied on a significant scale. The region’s current challenges in effectively realising sexual and reproductive health for its people include: unmet needs in access to contraception; high levels of maternal mortality and morbidity, including mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortion and lack of access to obstetric care; the persistence of pandemic levels of HIV; early and/or coerced marriages; harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation; sexual violence and exploitation; and endemic discrimination on the basis of age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and other vectors of discrimination. Though unmet sexual and reproductive health and rights are experienced across the gender divide, it is women who are at the receiving end of most deprivations.