Sexual and reproductive rights

A group of women take part in birth control lessons for slum dwellers

A group of women take part in birth control lessons for slum dwellers

© Mark Henley/PANOS


6 November 2007

Violence against women violates women's rights to life, physical and mental integrity, to the highest attainable standard of health, to freedom from torture and it violates their sexual and reproductive rights.

Upholding women's human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, is essential to preventing and ending gender-based violence.

The lived experience of girls and women shows how central are sexual and reproductive rights to their freedoms and dignity including their right to be free from gender-based violence and as a remedy where they have been subjected to such violence.

Key points:

  • the human suffering caused by abuses of sexual and reproductive  rights must end.
  • women must be able to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights free from coercion, discrimination and violence.  

What Amnesty International is doing

Amnesty International  is campaigning on the basis of the following points:

  • Forced and child marriage is a violation of girls' and women's sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Denying women access to reproductive health services is a violation of their reproductive rights. Denying them access to lifesaving obstetric care is a violation of their right to life and a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Forced abortions or sterilizations carried out by family planning officials or others acting in an official capacity violate reproductive rights and are grave violations of physical and mental integrity amounting to torture.
  • Obstructing rape survivors' access to legal abortion services is a violation of their sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Women must have access to safe and legal abortion services in cases of unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape, sexual assault or incest.
  • Imprisonment or other criminal sanctions for seeking or having an abortion is a violation of women's reproductive rights.
  • Women must have access to safe and legal abortion services where continuation of pregnancy poses a risk to their life or grave risk to their health.
  • Individuals have the right to seek, receive and impart information in relation to sexuality and reproduction without unreasonable restrictions. They have the right to access to information and services regarding sexual and reproductive health, including in relation to prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Women have the right to not be denied maternal health care, which should be accessible, affordable, adequate and of sufficiently high quality, taking into account their cultural needs. They have the right to access health care without discrimination.
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