All people in Canada have a human right to safe, legal, affordable, and accessible abortion care. While the federal government and many provincial governments declared abortion an essential service at the start of the pandemic, little has been done by governments to ensure that people in Canada continue to be able to access the SRH services, including abortion care, that they need. In the face of mounting anti-abortion tactics, it is critical that governments prioritize dismantling the barriers to SRH services and abortion care.
In this context, also in Latin America, neoliberal, conservative and anti-gender actors, within and outside the state, were very active in attacking policies and legislation that could advance sexual rights and rights to equality, including gender equality, to create barriers in their implementation or to establish measures of state control and authoritarianism. Although it is important to note that the ferocity of such measures was not as much as in Latin America as in Eastern European countries, Egypt or Russia, it is nevertheless true that these groups found new arguments during the pandemic to add to those they already used. They took advantage of measures adopted by governments to disseminate their perspectives in different ways; from demonstrations to social networks and other virtual media, their speeches included allusions to different conspiracy theories, invocations to restrict rights and distributed false information, all combined to confuse audiences.
Interview with the Coalition of African Lesbians on a communal, solidarity-based approach to wellbeing
Initially, in our quest to delve into the subject matter of wellbeing and wellness, we mistakenly used the two words interchangeably. Now, we only use the term wellbeing. This is because ‘wellbeing’ refers to the more holistic aspect of one’s life rather than just the physical health, which is what ‘wellness’ tends to encompass. It was important for us to recognise and appreciate that people’s welfare is affected by so much more than physical health, so many intangible factors like racism, sexism, patriarchy and capitalism that disproportionately affect LBQ women, activists and human rights defenders mobilising on the continent. Our hope is that these groups of people are holistically well.
Soon after the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, organisations around the world began reporting an increase in gender-based and domestic violence, in what they called a ‘shadow pandemic’. At the same time, another phenomenon started to take shape, that of the ‘citizen-informant’, a term for people who policed other people who were not practicing social distancing. The tendencies for violence and surveillance contained in these two phenomena came together and accentuated each other in a remarkable way in Egypt in April 2020, when TikTok became popular, in what is referred to as the case of women TikTokers in this brief. With the increasing popularity of the TikTok application in Egypt, online bullying multiplied against women and girls, for videotaping their social isolation. By the end of 2020, a 15-second lip sync had become a nightmare.
The smear campaign against women TikTokers highlights a classist perception of and entitlement to lower-class and lower-middle-class women’s bodies.
The revolution is feminist in its postulates as well and the key demand is the dismissal of the government. However the Women’s Strike, which organised the protests, formulated five key areas for change; these are: full spectrum of access to SRHR, a secular state, implementation of the Istanbul Convention, improvement of the material conditions of women and making Poland an inclusive and non-discriminating country.
At SRI, we believe that it would be foolish to treat COVID-19 as a temporary hiccup in a generally progressivist tale of the inevitable triumph of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as universally upheld human rights. Experience teaches us to always prepare to have SRHR gains be stalled, coopted, or deprioritized in a crisis, any crisis. The SRHR priority going forward must, therefore, be a refusal to accept “the new normal” – the normal of denial, deprivation, and discrimination – and recognize that the “war” that has been declared on the virus masks another war, one on fundamental and interconnected human rights. The further disempowerment of the impoverished, the unhoused, of gender and sexuality minorities, women in rural areas seeking abortion, adolescents in need of comprehensive sexuality education, sex workers, and women forced into marriage and childbearing – particularly in low-income countries and in low-income communities in wealthy countries – will be written off as the collateral damage of this war. Accepting the war analogy and the discourse of securitization that accompanies it means acceding to the logic of the necessary sacrifice of “foot soldiers” (frontline workers, in this case) and of the weak and most vulnerable among us, and provides a convenient distraction from the impact of the prioritization of military spending and of neoliberal policies of austerity and privatization on health systems and social security nets worldwide that have led us to this crisis. Research from different parts of the world clearly shows that there needs to be a joint, speedy, and concerted effort to catch the backsliding on women's rights, including SRHR, and we can expect that economic recession will be used to justify what the nationalist warcry might fail to.
Summary of sexual rights-related recommendations from the 30th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Reclaiming and Redefining Rights – ICPD+20: Status of sexual and reproductive rights in Middle East and North Africa.
The year 2014 was meant to be the year that ended the Program of Action adopted by the Cairo Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. The document was a paradigm shift in understanding and framing reproductive health and rights and prioritizing individuals’ rights to choose and make decisions with regards to their own bodies.
The shifting politics in multilateral development and human rights negotiations and the absence of accountability
Written by Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and Stuart Halford, Senior Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Sexual Rights Initiative.
The scale of maternal mortality and morbidity today is staggering. This book focuses on a vital part of a human rights response to maternal mortality, viz. accountability. Accountability encompasses monitoring, review and redress at the local, national and international levels. The book's context includes the UN Human Rights Council maternal mortality and morbidity resolutions, as well as Millennium Development Goal 5.