Protect sexual and reproductive rights defenders

Published on June 27, 2012

Joint Statement of SRI and the International Lesbian and Gay Association during the panel discussion on women’s human rights defenders

Delivered by Fikile Vilakazi, Coalition of African Lesbians (South Africa)

Madam President, the Sexual Rights Initiative congratulates the panel on women human rights defenders and appreciates the analysis of the panellists on the situation of women human rights defenders across the globe. We thank the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders for her work to foreground the contexts of our work and of both the consequences and impacts on women human rights defenders.

We further draw attention to the continued silencing, intimidation and oppression of these defenders of women’s human rights. We call on states to:

  • Recognize the realities faced by women who defend, promote and protect women’s rights, particularly those who defend sexual rights and reproductive rights;
  • Adopt policies, strategies and measures to promote and protect women human rights defenders;
  • Develop national action plans and budgets to ensure that women human rights defenders are free to exercise our right and responsibility to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in keeping with the United Nations Human Rights Declaration of 1998;
  • Take effective measures to strengthen the access of women human rights defenders to safety and security in their homes and places of residence, their workplaces and in the full range of public spaces where we do this work;
  • Ensure freedom of movement for women human rights defenders both within national borders and between borders as women human rights defenders organize on and promote and protect women’s rights;
  • Pay special attention to women human rights defenders who work on and defend the rights of those women who are forced to the margins of society and are subjected to multiple discrimination and oppressions, including sexually active young women, women living with HIV, single women, sex workers, refugee women, lesbian women and women who have sex with women
  • End impunity for acts of violence and attacks on women human rights defenders whether perpetrated by state or non-state actors

We would like to ask the panelists the following questions:

  • How does the panel think the HRC can best respond to these issues mentioned above and hold states to account in this regard?
  • What actions does the panel recommend to the Council and member states; where the safety and ability to continue the work of women human rights defenders is threatened because they are working on issues that are not supported by the state?

Thank you Madam President.