‘Hands off our bodies’: new manifesto calls on states to end attempts to control women’s lives

Picture: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images.

Amnesty International has launched a new manifesto demanding that governments around the world end their attempts to control and criminalize women’s and girls’ sexuality and choices.

The My Body My Rights manifesto calls on states to remove barriers to sexual and reproductive health services, education and information by ending discriminatory laws and practices.

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day the manifesto sets out the rights that all women and girls have over their bodies. Despite advancements made since the signing of a landmark global agreement on gender equality in Beijing two decades ago, a backlash has resulted in women and girls around the world being stripped of their sexual and reproductive rights.

Despite the fact that dozens of states have banned forced marriage and female genital mutilation over the last 20 years, the practice remains widespread.

Jessie Macneil-Brown, My Body My Rights Campaign Manager at Amnesty International.

“Serious violations of women’s and girl’s sexual and reproductive rights are a major problem. In some countries abortion is still completely banned and women are jailed for even being suspected of having had an abortion or for having a miscarriage.”

The manifesto, launched as part of Amnesty International’s global My Body My Rights campaign, calls on states to:
• abolish laws that criminalize the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights;

• release all women and girls who have been imprisoned in relation to undergoing abortions or for having miscarriages and those who have assisted them;

• guarantee access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services;

• guarantee access to non-biased and evidence-based sexuality education and programmes both in and out of schools;

• prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence, especially against women and girls;

• ensure all people have a meaningful say in the law and policies that have an impact on their bodies and their lives;

• ensure that everyone has access to affordable and effective justice remedies when their sexual and reproductive rights have been violated.

“States and others must end attempts to control the choices of women and girls. The right to make informed decisions about our sexual and reproductive health is a human right, and must be guaranteed rather than undermined and criminalized,” said Jessie Macneil-Brown.

“This manifesto calls on all people to stand in solidarity and to demand that these rights are protected.”

See the full manifesto here