Sexual and Reproductive Rights: Facts and Figures

The facts and figures below relate to the issues of sexual and reproductive rights, in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development.Young people There are over 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24 in the world today, the largest generation of young people in history. Almost 90% of young people live in developing countries, where they tend to make up a large proportion of the population. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth, gender-based violence and AIDS are among the leading causes of mortality for young people. Access to information, education and servicesAccording to UN estimates, the vast majority of adolescents and young people still do not have access to the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and education that they need for a healthy life. Contraceptive use is relatively low among married young women aged 15-24 in Asia and Africa, for example less than 25% of the married girls have used contraception. ICF International, 2012An in-depth study of four sub-Saharan African countries found that more than 60% of adolescentsdid not know how to prevent pregnancy and more than 1/3 didn’t know of a source for contraceptives. Unmet needs for contraception are due to the limited access to information, quality and affordable adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health services. HIV/AIDSOnly 34 per cent of youth (24 per cent of young women and 36 per cent of young men) in developing countries can answer correctly the five basic questions about HIV and how to prevent it, far below the global target of 95% by 2010. Young people aged 15-24 account for 41% all new HIV cases among the 15-49 aged. Nearly 3000 young people are becoming infected with HIV every day. Young women are at a higher risk of HIV infection than young men: there are almost twice as many young women living with HIV globally. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women make up 71% of young people living with HIV.UNAIDS.AbortionThe UK has one of the highest teenage birth and abortion rates in Western Europe, despite having the second highest use of contraception. In developing countries, complications from pregnancy continue to be the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19. Among the main risks faced by the young mothers are prolonged labour, fistula, infection after giving birth, and being infected by HIV and mother-to-child transmission. Many adolescent pregnancies are unintended and as a result the rates of unsafe abortion among young women are high, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where girls aged 15-19 account for one in every four unsafe abortions.  Adolescent girls and young women face high levels of injury and death as a result of unsafe abortion. In 2008, there were an estimated 3 million unsafe abortions in developing countries among girls aged 15-19. WHO guidelines on preventing early pregnancy and poor reproductive health outcomes among adolescents in developing countries, 2011.Child marriage Child marriage is still widespread, especially in least developed countries, where 30% of women aged 15-19 are married. If present patterns continue, in the next decade around 100 million girls will be married as children. Between 2000 and 2009, 31% of young women aged 20-24 in least developed countries gave birth before age 18. Due to child marriage, unsafe and unprotected sex and inadequate care during pregnancy, maternal deaths are 28% higher among adolescents than among those aged 20-24. Most adolescent girls, whether married or unmarried give birth with insufficient information, health care or support.Sexual violenceAcross all economic strata and across the world, adolescent girls and young women live under the threat of sexual violence and abuse, including from a family member or an intimate partner. Approximately 150 million girls under the age of 18 are estimated to have experienced some form of sexual violence. Up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under age 16.It is estimated that one in two adolescent girls in the Caribbean are forced into sexual initiation. Central American women also suffer high rates of violence. First sexual experience was non-consensual for a low of 2% of girls in Azerbaijan to a high of 64% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The overwhelming majority of girls pregnant as a result of rape or incest in Nicaragua are aged between 10 and 14. The legislation that came into effect in 2008 criminalizes all abortion, including for survivors of rape and incest. Under this law, rape survivors must either carry the pregnancy to term, or seek an unsafe, illegal abortion and risk possible imprisonment if they are discovered. Amnesty International, The total abortion ban in Nicaragua: Women’s lives and health endangered, medical professionals criminalized.Studies in sub-Saharan Africa found that partner’s violence and the fear of abuse stopped girls from saying “no” to sex and jeopardized condom use.Between 100 and 140 million women and girls in Africa have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Although the proportion of girls undergoing FGM is decreasing in some countries, yet over 3 million girls worldwide remain at risk of the procedure every year. World Health Organization estimates 2011.