REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – April 2019

April 22, 2019

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DEVELOPMENTS:

[Australia] High Court upholds safe access zones near abortion clinics. High Court of Australia,  Kathleen Clubb v Alyce Edwards & Anor;  John Graham Preston v. Elizabeth Avery & Anor,  [2019] HCA 11,  Judgment of April 10, 2019. Decision online.    High Court Press ReleaseSummary and comment by Adrianne Walters, Senior Lawyer.

[Canada] Ministry of Health ruling: Doctors can now prescribe abortion pills without preliminary ultrasound.  Health Canada press release, April 16, 2019Safe Abortion Campaign report.

[Rwanda]  Ministry of Health ruling: Abortion approval requirement is reduced to one medical doctor. Ministerial Order N°002/MoH/2019 issued April 8, 2019. Details of Ministerial order. Rwandan newspaper.  In addition, 367 women imprisoned for having or assisting abortion / infanticide were also released by presidential pardon, April 5, 2019.  Safe Abortion report.   Guardian news report.

[South Korea] Constitutional Court ordered government to decriminalize abortion within 20 weeks of gestation by Dec 31, 2020.  An indicted doctor had petitioned against the law.  New York Times report, April 11, 2019. Amicus curiae submission by UN Working Group.

SCHOLARSHIP:

“Abortion, the Disabilities of Pregnancy, and the Dignity of Risk,” by Mary Anne Case, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 705 (2019)  Working paper.

[abortion] “Abortion, law reform and the context of decision-making,” by Heather Douglas and Katherine Kerr [Australia],  Griffith Law Review 25.1 (2016) 129-145
Review Essay, discusses 3 books.:
—-Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective (Cook Erdman & Dickens)
;
—-Law, Policy and Reproductive Autonomy (Erin Nelson) ;
—-Reproductive Freedom, Torture, and International Human Rights (Ronli Sifris)

[Australia, Northern Territory] “A Reproductive Rights Framework Supporting Law Reform on Termination of Pregnancy in the Northern Territory of Australia
by Suzanne Belton, Felicity Gerry, and Virginia Stulz, Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity 6.2 (2018): 25-53. Abstract and Article.

[abortion, Northern Ireland]  “Abortion in Northern Ireland and the European Convention on Human Rights: Reflections from the UK Supreme Court,” by Bríd Ní Ghráinne  and Aisling McMahon, International & Comparative Law Quarterly 68.2(Apr 2019): 477-494.  Abstract and Articlealso on SSRN.

[abortion, Uruguay] “Legal barriers to access abortion services through a human rights lens: the Uruguayan experience,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa, Reproductive Health Matters 26:52(2018): 151-158.  Abstract and article.

[abortion, stereotyping, Uruguay]   ‘“Women are Not in the Best Position to Make These Decisions by Themselves”: Gender Stereotypes in the Uruguayan Abortion Law’ by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa University of Oxford Human Rights Hub Journal 1 (2019): 25-54.  Abstract and article.

[conscience]  ‘Right of freedom of conscience is not absolute’, by Joan McCarthy, Nursing in General Practice, 12.1(2018): 27-28.  Abstract and article.

“Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa: A complex legal and ethical landscape,”  by Satang Nabaneh and Adamson S. Muula, InternationalJournal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2019; 145: 253–257,  PDF at Wiley Online.   Submitted text at SSRN.

[human rights and criminal law] Beyond Virtue and Vice:  Rethinking Human Rights and Criminal Law, ed.  Alice M. Miller and Mindy Jane Roseman,  Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)  360 pages.  It includes:
——   Abortion as treason: Sexuality and Nationalism in France, by Mindy Jane Roseman, 158-170.
——   Harm Production: An Argument for Decriminalization, by Joanna N. Erdman, 248-268.    Book abstract and information.    Intro and excerpts from pp. 3-55 online.

[medical abortion access] “Realising the right to sexual and reproductive health: Access to essential medicines for medical abortion as a core obligation.” by Katrina Perehudoff, Lucía Berro Pizzarossa and Jelle Stekelenburg, BMC International Health and Human Rights, 18.1 (2018) [8 pages]. Article online.

[reproductive rights] “Here to Stay: The Evolution of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in International Human Rights Law,” by Lucía Berro Pizzarossa,  Laws 7.3 (2018): 1-17. Open Access Article.

JOBS

Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here.

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Compiled by: the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca.   See Program website for our PublicationsInformation resources, and Reprohealthlaw Commentaries Series.
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Australia’s highest court upholds safe access zones near abortion clinics

April 22, 2019

Congratulations and thanks to Adrianne Walters, a Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre in Australia, which intervened in the High Court of Australia in support of Victoria’s safe access zone laws. We thank her for submitting this summary and comment about this useful decision:

High Court of Australia,  Kathleen Clubb v Alyce Edwards & Anor;  John Graham Preston v. Elizabeth Avery & Anor,  [2019] HCA 11,  Judgment of April 10, 2019. Decision online.    Press Release.

Last week, the High Court of Australia upheld laws that protect the safety, privacy and well-being of women seeking access to abortion services.  [The High Court of Australia is the supreme court in the Australian court hierarchy and the final court of appeal in Australia.]

Background to safe access zones
Safe access zones have been introduced in most states in Australia since 2013 and have ended decades of harmful anti-choice harassment and abuse outside abortion clinics. Only two states have not yet introduced them.

Most safe access zone laws in Australia create a 150-metre buffer zone outside abortion clinics in which certain behaviours are prohibited, including harassing, obstructing, intimidating and filming patients and staff.

The constitutional challenge
The safe access zone laws of two states, Victoria and Tasmania, were challenged in the High Court.

In Victoria, Mrs Kathleen Clubb was charged and convicted of engaging in prohibited behaviour in a zone; specifically, communicating about abortion in a manner “reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety” to a couple trying to enter a clinic in Melbourne.

In Tasmania, Mr Graham Preston, was also charged and convicted with engaging in prohibited behaviour in a zone. In his case the prohibited conduct involved “a protest” about abortion that was able to be seen or heard by a person accessing a clinic.

Both Mrs Clubb and Mr Preston appealed to the High Court. They argued that the laws they were convicted under were invalid because they impermissibly burdened the freedom of political communication, which is implied in the Australian Constitution.

The High Court’s decision:
The High Court dismissed the appeals of Mrs Clubb and Mr Preston. A majority of judges upheld the validity of Victoria’s safe access zone laws (three judges declined to determine the validity question because it was not established that Mrs Clubb’s conduct involved political communication). All seven judges determined and upheld the validity of Tasmania’s laws.

In upholding the laws, the High Court recognised that while they do burden the freedom of political communication, the laws serve a critical purpose in making sure women can access the healthcare they need, and staff can carry out their work, without being harassed and abused. As one of the judges noted “women seeking an abortion and those involved in assisting or supporting them are entitled to do so safely, privately and with dignity, without haranguing”.

The High Court also found that the challenged parts of the laws were reasonably appropriate and adapted to achieving that critical purpose. In a joint judgment, three judges noted that “a measure that seeks to ensure that women seeking a safe termination are not driven to less safe procedures by being subjected to shaming behaviour or by the fear of the loss of privacy is a rational response to a serious public health issue.”

It was noted that the freedom of political communication “is not a licence to accost persons with ideas which they do not wish to hear, still less to harangue vulnerable persons entering or leaving a medical establishment for the intensely personal, private purpose of seeking lawful medical advice and assistance.”  The majority acknowledged the unique challenges faced by pregnant women confronted by extreme anti-choice activists outside clinics, noting that “it is no part of the implied freedom to guarantee a speaker an audience, much less a captive audience.”

The High Court’s decision is a big win for women’s rights in Australia. The decision confirms our right to access the healthcare we need without having to forgo our safety, privacy and dignity to get there. It means safe access zone laws are here to stay.

Related Resources:

The Human Rights Law Centre intervened in the High Court in support of Victoria’s safe access zone laws. Amicus Curiae brief.

Adrianne Walters, “Big win for women’s reproductive freedom, but still a long way to go,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 2019.  Australian newspaper article.

High Court of Australia,  Kathleen Clubb v Alyce Edwards & Anor;  John Graham Preston v. Elizabeth Avery & Anor,  [2019] HCA 11,  Judgment of April 10, 2019.  Decision online.    Press Release.

Abortion Law Decisions webpage:  links to domestic, regional and international decisions, maintained by the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto    English and Spanish online.
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Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

 

 


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – March 2019

March 15, 2019

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DEVELOPMENTS:

[El Salvador] Supreme Court ordered release of another three women serving 30 years for alleged abortions.  News report, March 7, 2019.   Report from Safe Abortion.

[Germany]  In February 2019, the Bundestag revised the Criminal Code provision that prohibits the so-called “advertising” of abortions. Providers can now publicly announce, e.g. on websites, that they provide abortion care. News report, Feb 21, 2019.

[Isle of Man] In January 2019, the Abortion Reform Act 2019 allows abortion on a woman’s request in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.  Abortion at 15-23 weeks’ gestation in cases of sexual assault, severe fatal impairment, or risk to the woman’s health.  effective May 2019.  Abortion Reform Act 2019.

Kenyan High Court upholds human and constitutional rights to maternal dignity and reproductive healthcare:   J O O (also known as J M) v Attorney General & 6 others [2018] Petition No 5 of 2014, (High Court of Kenya at Bungoma).  March 22, 2017.  Case summary by Naitore Nyamu.     Court decision.    Legal Grounds III online.

Pakistan Court Orders Implementation of Measures to Address Obstetric Fistula
CRR Press Release.

SCHOLARSHIP:

Mahmoud F. Fathalla, “Abortion and Public Health Ethics,” in: The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics, ed.  Anna C. Mastroianni, Jeffrey P. Kahn, and Nancy E. Kass, Oxford Handbooks Online,  February 2019.  Article online.

[abortion law, Argentina]  “Constitutional Dialogues and Abortion Law Reform in Argentina: What’s Next?” by Paola Bergallo, featured on I-CONnect Blog, Feb. 27, 2019.  Article online.

[female circumcision]  “Circumcision, Female,” by Mahmoud F. Fathalla,  Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, ed. Henk ten Have  (Switzerland: Springer International, 2016)  Abstract and article.   Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics.

[HIV transmission, stigma] “Expert Consensus Statement on the Science of HIV in the Context of Criminal Law” by F. Barré-Sinoussi et al.  Journal of the International AIDS Society  21 (2018): e25161  Expert Consensus Statement.      Overview in JIAS editorial.

JOBS

Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here.

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

 

 

 

 


Kenyan High Court upholds human and constitutional rights to maternal dignity and reproductive healthcare

March 15, 2019

Many thanks to Naitore Nyamu, an LL.M. student in the graduate program in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, for contributing a detailed abstract of this progressive Kenyan ruling for Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts, online edition.

J O O (also known as J M) v Attorney General & 6 others [2018] Petition No 5 of 2014, (High Court of Kenya at Bungoma), March 22, 2018.  Case summary by Naitore Nyamu.   Court decision.

The case summary by Naitore Nyamu explains how, on 5 August, 2013, a low-income pregnant woman sought healthcare for delayed labour and suffered neglect, privations and expenses from an ill-funded county hospital, and humiliating personal abuse from its nurses.  She later filed a constitutional petition alleging various violations of her rights as stipulated in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and she also made reference to rights recognized in international human rights treaties to which Kenya is a party.

The Court held that the Petitioner’s right to maternal health care had been infringed and that the abusive actions of the nurses and the Hospital denied, derogated and demeaned the Petitioner’s worth.  Hence, the Court found a violation of her right to dignity contrary to the provisions of Article 28 and a violation of her freedom and security, including the right not to be treated in a cruel, inhuman and degrading manner, contrary to Article 29 (j) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Additionally, the Court held that the national and county governments had failed to devote adequate resources to healthcare services and had not established effective measures to implement, monitor and provide minimum acceptable standards of health care. This is a violation of the Constitution and the international instruments that Kenya has ratified.

As Naitore Nyamu comments in her case summary, the Kenyan Constitution of 2010 has an expansive Bill of Rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, but women in Kenya cannot access maternal care in a dignified manner. One of the tenets of devolving the health services was to increase accessibility of better health care services to all citizenry. The treatment the Petitioner received at the Hospital leaves a lot of questions on whether the County Governments want to make the right to health and sexual and reproductive health rights a reality.  This case highlights how deep-rooted and systemic the violations of the rights to maternal health care are in Kenya. It also illustrates the many obstacles and humiliations that women seeking maternal health care can face in public health institutions.

This High Court judgment in J.O.O. reinforces the decision in Millicent Awuor Omuya alias Maimuna Awuor & Another v. The Attorney General & 4 Others (2015), (Petition No. 562 of 2012), where it was held that the National and County Governments do not require resources to accord respect to women seeking services in public institutions such as hospitals.  The Court’s reliance on provisions of international legal instruments ensured that the Court interpreted this issue from a wide spectrum of human rights provisions, hence this is a very progressive ruling that sets high standards. The Court found that the actions and omissions of the respondents were in violation of numerous rights as provided in the international treaties that Kenya has ratified. This signifies that it is not enough to just ratify conventions; states must equally ensure realization of the rights in these conventions. It was also an indication that Kenya cannot ratify conventions and fail to effect what these provisions stipulate.

For details, see Naitore Nyamu’s full case summary, online here, or  the High Court’s decision of March 22, 2018 online here.

An earlier Kenyan case of maternal abuse is abstracted in Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts:

Other decisions from this chapter are summarized in Legal Grounds III.

Maternal Health Care and Services  – thematic highlight by Tinyade Kachika

Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts (Pretoria: Pretoria University Law Press, 2017)   54 court decisions from 2008-2016   Online edition with updates.   Entire book, 228-pages 

Legal Grounds I and II  are online at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
__________________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates – February 2019

February 19, 2019

SUBSCRIBE TO REPROHEALTHLAW: To receive these updates monthly by email, enter your address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

DEVELOPMENTS:

[abortion] Ireland – The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act was signed into law, effective January 1, 2019.  Medical Council also deleted four of the five paragraphs dealing with abortion from its guide on professional conduct and ethics because they conflicted with the Act.  Newspaper article.

[abortion -Northern Ireland] UK Supreme Court had ruled in June ([2018] UKSC 27 (7 June 2018)  On appeal from: [2017] NICA 42that violation of European Convention on Human Rights could not be decided without at least one complainant.  On January 30, 2019,  Sara Ewart, who had once travelled for abortion of a fatally impaired fetus, launched a case that could find Northern Ireland’s abortion law in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments. She is supported by Amnesty International.  News articleAmnesty International press release.

[conscience – institutional] Chile, Constitutional Court upheld an unconstitutionality claim against the government’s new Regulations about the scope of “institutional” conscientious objection for private facilities and clinics.  STC Rol N° 5572-18-CDS / 5650-18-CDS (acumuladas). January 18, 2019.   Spanish decision  English news report.

[conscience]   Norway: Supreme Court upholds rights of doctor who refused to insert IUD.  Two cases: I. Sauherad municipality (Counsel Frode Lauareid) v. A, Norges Kristelige Legeforening (intervener) (Counsel Håkon H. Bleken), II. A, Norges Kristelige Legeforening (intervener) (Counsel Håkon H. Bleken) v. Sauherad municipality (Counsel Frode Lauareid, HR-2018-1958-A (case no. 2018/199), 11 October 2018 (Supreme Court of Norway) Judgment online in English – official translation.      Newspaper article.

[stigma] US:  Vending Machines Offer Emergency Contraception Without the Stigma introduced in 2012, now at several campuses, including Stanford University.   News report.

SCHOLARSHIP:

[abortion access]  Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Prince Edward Island, ed. Colleen MacQuarrie, Fiona Bloomer, Claire Pierson and Shannon Stettner (Charlottetown, PEI, Canada: Island Studies Press, 2018). 288 pages.      Table of ContentsPublisher’s web page.

[abortion law]   “Criminal law and the risk of harm: a commentary on the impact of criminal laws on sexual and reproductive health, sexual conduct and key populations,” by Veronica Birga, Luisa Cabal, Lucinda O’Hanlon & Christina Zampas.   Reproductive Health Matters, 26.52 (2018): 33-37 Article online.

[abortion law, Argentina] Federalism, two-level games and the politics of abortion rights implementation in sub-national Argentina, by Alba Ruibal, in Reproductive Health Matters 26:54 (Nov. 2018): 137-144.   Article in English with abstracts in English. French & Spanish.

[abortion law, Argentina] “Legal obstacles and social change: strategies of the abortion rights movement in Argentina,” by Alba Ruibal and Cora Fernandez Anderson, in Politics, Groups and Identity,  preview November 2018, 17 pages.  Institutional access.   Abstract from Safe Abortion.

[abortion law, Argentina]”Federalism and subnational legal mobilization: feminist litigation strategies in Salta, Argentina,” by Alba Ruibal,  Law & Society Review,  32-page preview 29 October 2018. Institutional access.    Abstract from Safe Abortion.

[abortion law – Brazil]  Constitutionalizing Abortion in Brazil, by Marta Machado and Rebecca J. Cook, Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp.185-231.  Abstract and Article PDF.   Also at SSRN.

[abortion law – Brazil and Mexico]  “Constitutionalism and rights protection in Mexico and Brazil: comparative remarks, by Francisca Pou Giménez, in Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp 233-255  Abstract and article PDF.

[abortion law, Dominican Republic]  “It’s Your Decision.  It’s Your Life:  Total criminalization of abortion in the Dominican Republic.”  interviews, plus legal overview and recommendations.  (Human Rights Watch, Nov 19, 2018).   84 pages. English PDF    Spanish PDF.   Online in English.    Overview with 5-minute video.

[abortion law -Ireland]  “Abortion, the Irish Constitution, and constitutional change” by David Kenny, Revista de Investigações Constitucionais / Journal of Constitutional Research, vol. 5, n. 3 (set./dez. 2018) pp. 257-275.   Abstract and Article PDF.

[abortion law, Mexico] “Maternidad o Castigo:  La criminalización del aborto en Mexico,”  (Mexico, GIRE, 2018)  [Report in Spanish:] Informe de 72 paginas.  For executive summary in English, see: Motherhood or Punishment: The criminalization of abortion in Mexico:  English summary.

[abortion law] “Northern Ireland and Abortion Law Reform,” by Kathryn McNeilly, Fiona Bloomer and Claire Pierson,  Queen’s University, Ulster University and University of Liverpool, Sept. 2018, open access, 8 pages.  Briefing Paper.

[adolescents]  “(De)Criminalizing Adolescent Sex: A rights-based assessment of age of consent laws in Eastern and Southern Africa,” by Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Ann Skelton, SAGE Open (Oct-Dec 2018): 1 –12.   Article online.   Abstract.

[conscience]  “Objection ladies! Taking IPPF-EN v. Italy one step further, by Emmanuelle Bribosia, Ivana Isailovic and Isabelle  Rorive, in:  Integrated Human Rights in Practice:Rewriting Human Rights Decisions, ed. Eva Brems and Ellen Desmet (Cheltenham, UK:  Elgar, 2018).  Abstract and previous version.

[conscience]  “Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights,” by Louise Melling, chapter 14 in:  The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the Balance between Religion, Identity, and Equality, ed. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld (Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 2018)  pp. 375-391.   Institutional Access.

[conscience]  “Seeking to square the circle:  Conscientious objection in Reproductive Healthcare” by Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle  Rorive, chapter 15 in:  The Conscience Wars: Rethinking the Balance between Religion, Identity, and Equality, ed. Susanna Mancini and Michel Rosenfeld (Cambridge, UK:  Cambridge University Press, 2018)  pp. 392-413.  Institutional Access.    Abstract and previous version

 

[gender stereotyping, I.V. v. Bolivia, sterilization]  “The human rights impact of gender stereotyping in the context of reproductive health care,” by Ciara O’Connell and Christina Zampas,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (2019):  116–121.  PDF online here.

[maternal health] Impact of reproductive evolutionary mismatch on women’s health and the need for action and research, by Mahmoud F. Fathalla, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (Feb. 2019): 129–134.  Institutional Access.  

[New book] Beyond Virtue and Vice:  Rethinking Human Rights and Criminal Law
ed.  Alice M. Miller and Mindy Jane Roseman,  Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)  360 pages. Book information.
Intro and chapters 1 and 3 online.
Chapters about abortion law include:
ο    “Abortion as Treason: Sexuality and nationalism in France” by Mindy Jane Roseman
ο    “Criminal Law, Activism and Sexual and Reproductive Justice: What we can learn from the sex selection campaign in India,” by Geetanjali Misra and Vrinda Marwah
ο    “Harm Production: An argument for decriminalization,”  by Joanna N. Erdman

JOBS

Links to employers in the field of Reproductive and Sexual Health Law are online here.

Senior Vice President, Global Legal Program, Center for Reproductive Rights, New York, USA.    Job details and application form.

______________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.

 

 

 

 


Africa: (De)Criminalizing Adolescent Sex: Rights and Age of Consent Laws

February 19, 2019

Congratulations to Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pretoria, and Prof. Ann Skelton, Director of the Centre for Child Law at the same university, for publishing the following article in an open access journal.  We are pleased to circulate an expanded abstract below:

Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Ann Skelton, (De)Criminalizing Adolescent Sex: A Rights-Based Assessment of Age of Consent Laws in Eastern and Southern Africa,” SAGE Open (Oct-Dec 2018): 1 –12.   Article online.

Abstract:   Age of consent criminal laws imposed on African states during colonialism were inherently patriarchal and gender-stereotypic, and continue to influence country approaches toward adolescent consensual sexual conduct. There are two major policy positions: a punitive and a nonpunitive approach. Most countries adopt the punitive approach. Mostly, legislation does not explicitly criminalize consensual sexual conduct between adolescents, and this leaves a gray area to be filled in by social and cultural norms that perceive adolescent sexual conduct negatively. Punitive approaches have been justified as necessary to curb harms to adolescents resulting from sexual conduct, including teenage pregnancies and sexual abuse. Age of consent laws, especially in their original colonial formulation, deny adolescents–especially girls–sexual autonomy and agency. States focus more on punishment than on taking measures to address the structural antecedents of harms associated with sexual intercourse. States should reform age of consent laws to decriminalize consensual sex between adolescents in accordance with recognized rights of the child.

Drawing upon concepts from childhood sociological studies, the article examines historically and culturally constructed notions of childhood and adolescence and ideas about sexual agency of children. Using findings of a study, conducted by the Center for Child Law of the University of Pretoria, on age of consent laws in Eastern and Southern Countries, the article addresses questions about the rationale for age of consent laws, and whether and how these laws could be reformed to better align with the rights of the child. The article also examines these questions through the lens of court decisions in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe that dealt with the issue of criminalisation of adolescent consensual sex. The article makes a case for decriminalisation because criminalisation infringes the sexual agency of adolescents and infringes on a host of rights including the right to dignity, equality and privacy. Criminalisation also impacts on other aspects of the well-being of the child and adolescent. including sexual health and protection from harms related to sexual conduct.

This 12-page article: is online here.

Cases mentioned:

Related resource:
Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts
Pretoria: Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), 2017.  Online edition with decisions and updates.    Entire book, 228-pages.   Printed copies available.

________________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


Human rights impact of gender stereotyping in reproductive health care

February 19, 2019

Congratulations and thanks to Ciara O’Connell of the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, and Christina Zampas,  a Fellow in the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, whose co-authored article was recently published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics:

“The human rights impact of gender stereotyping in the context of reproductive health care,” by Ciara O’Connell and Christina Zampas,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 144 (2019):  116–121.  PDF online here.

Abstract:
Gender stereotypes surrounding women’s reproductive health impede women’s access to essential reproductive healthcare and contribute to inequality more generally. Stereotyping in healthcare settings impedes women’s access to contraceptive information, services, and induced abortion, and lead to involuntary interventions in the context of sterilization. Decisions by human rights monitoring bodies, such as the Inter‐American Court of Human Rights’ case, IV v. Bolivia, which was a case concerned with the involuntary sterilization of a woman during childbirth, highlight how stereotypes in the context of providing health care can operate to strip women of their agency and decision‐making authority, deny them their right to informed consent, reinforce gender hierarchies and violate their reproductive rights. In the present article, IV v. Bolivia is examined as a case study with the objective being to highlight how, in the context of coercive sterilization, human rights law has been used to advance legal and ethical guidelines, including the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics’ (FIGO) own guidelines, on gender stereotyping and reproductive healthcare. The Inter‐American Court’s judgment in IV v. Bolivia illustrates the important role FIGO’s guidance can play in shaping human rights standards and provides guidance on the service provider’s role and responsibility in eliminating gender stereotypes and upholding and fulfilling human rights.

KEYWORDS
Ethical standards; FIGO guidelines; Forced sterilization; Human rights; Human rights law;  Informed consent; Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Stereotypes.
The published article is online here.
__________________
Compiled by the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at utoronto.ca For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.