REPROHEALTHLAW Updates — July/August 2017

August 31, 2017

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
[Chile] Abortion legalized in three cases: when the woman’s life is at risk, when the fetus will not survive the pregnancy, and in case of rape).  New law ruled constitutional by the Constitutional Court of Chile on August 28, 20176:  STC Rol N° 3729(3751). Requerimientos de inconstitucionalidad presentados por un grupo de Senadores y Diputados, respecto de normas del proyecto de ley que regula la despenalización de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo en tres causales, correspondiente al boletín N° 9895-11.  Tribunal Constitucional Chile.  Decision in Spanish -295 pagesAccompanying documentsOther Submissions  Newspaper report in English.    Overview by Carlos Herrera, LL.M.
Many Chilean law professors addressed the Court, including:
   Prof. Veronica Undurraga  presentation online.
Prof. Lidia Casas Becerra  
presentation begins at minute 42:00

[United Nations – CEDAW] General Recommendation 35,  Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) concerns gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation 19 (1992). e.g.: “Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalisation of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender-based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” (Art. 18)  Calls for repeal of ” legal provisions that discriminate against women,”(Art. 31) including “legislation that criminalises abortion” (31a).  Advance Unedited version of Gen. Rec. 35, 24 July 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS:
Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network, for the Law and Society Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 7-10, 2018, on the theme: “Law at the Crossroads”  500-word abstracts due Sept 17, 2017 Submission link.   Detailed call for papers  Pre-formed panels or ideas are welcome at:  2018lsacrn at gmail.com.

RESOURCES
Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), now also in Spanish (see next entry) and in paperback, 20% discount code PH70.  English edition from U Penn PressTable of Contents with chapter summaries.  Table of Cases.

El aborto en el derecho transnacional: casos y controversias,  ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman y Bernard M. Dickens (Mexico: FCE/CIDE, 2016)   En espanol, 2016: Fondo de Cultura Económica Libreria CIDE.     Índice con resúmenes de capítulos 1-5
Tabla de Casos/Jurisprudencia en línea con enlaces a muchas de las decisiones judiciales

[abortion law] Amicus curiae brief on international legal consensus  on abortion law reform, non-arbitrariness and proportionality, and grounds and procedural protections. 20 pp, submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile by Professors Joanna Erdman and Rebecca Cook, August 10, 2017.   Spanish and English PDF

[abortion law, Ireland] “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, Dignity and the Irish Discourse on Abortion”, by Claire Murray, Social and Legal Studies 25.6 (Dec 2016): 667-698   PDF onlineAccepted version.

[abortion, Uganda] “Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (Aug. 2017): 231–236. doi:10.1002/ijgo.12190   PDF temporarily online for 12 months Submitted text online at SSRN.

[Africa] “The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the Woman Question”, by Ebenezer Durojaye and O. Oluduro, Feminist Legal Studies (2016) 24: 315-336  Abstract and article.

[conscientious objection] Amicus curiae brief  on conscientious objection by Professor Bernard Dickens submitted to the Tribunal Constitucional of Chile, August 10, 2017  English PDF     Spanish  PDF

NEWS
[abortion drug, Canada]: “Mifegymiso” (a combination of two abortion pills: mifepristone and misoprostol RU-486), approved by Health Canada in 2015, is now available free of charge in Ontario through pharmacies by prescription from physicians and nurse practitioners  News article.

International news and resources for advocacy:  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

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.


Uganda: Harm reduction model for access to safe abortion

August 31, 2017

Congratulations and thanks to Moses Mulumba and his colleagues at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in Kampala for collaborating with Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist and obstetrician, on a newly published article in the Legal and Ethical Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (August 2017): 231–236.  PDF free online for 12 months Submitted text  online at SSRN.

Access to safe and legal abortion services is a far reach for women and girls in Uganda. Although unsafe abortion rates have fallen from 54 to 39 per 1000 women aged 15-45 years over a decade, absolute figures show a rise from 294 000 in 2003 to 314,000 women having unsafe abortions in 2013.  Unfortunately, only 50% of the women who develop abortion complications are able to reach facilities for post-abortion care.  Despite the clinical evidence and the stories from undocumented cases, debate on access to safer and legal abortion is constricted, moralized, and stigmatized.  The harm reduction model has shown evidence of benefit in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity due to unsafe abortion while addressing related stigma and discrimination and advancing women’s reproductive health rights.  This article presents a case for promoting the model in Uganda.

Key words:  Abortion laws; Abortion policies and guidelines; Constitutional rights; Ethics; Harm reduction model; Human rights; Ugandan abortion law; Unsafe abortion


AFRICA: Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts – 54 case summaries

February 14, 2017

2017_legal_grounds

by: Godfrey Kangaude, Onyema Afulukwe, Guy-Fleury Ntwari, et al.
Foreword by Prof. Charles G. Ngwena
PULP (Pretoria University Law Press) 2017
Download entire 228 page book online.
Online edition with links to decisions
Printable flyer with Table of Contents
Previous volumes
.

Reproductive and sexual rights, which are guaranteed in constitutions and in international and regional human rights treaties, have no impact if they are not recognized and enforced by national-level courts. Legal Grounds: Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts Volume III continues to provide much-needed information about whether and how national courts of African countries apply constitutional and human rights to protect reproductive and sexual rights. The case summaries, significance sections, and thematic highlights serve as useful resources for those seeking to further develop litigation, advocacy, and capacity- building strategies.

Like its predecessors, Legal Grounds: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts – Volume III is a tool for organizations, individuals, and institutions of learning. The scope of this third volume has been widened beyond Commonwealth African countries to include cases from Francophone countries, while focusing more exclusively on court decisions related to reproductive and sexual health. This compelling publication contributes towards a knowledge base of court decisions that bear directly or indirectly on the exercise of reproductive and sexual health as constitutional and human rights in Africa.
228 page book onlinePrevious volumes Printable flyer with Table of Contents.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Foreword, Introduction, Acknowledgments
Children and Adolescents
—Child, Forced and Early Marriage
—Female Genital Mutilation legal-grounds/
—Sexual Abuse, Assault and Violence
—Consensual Sexual Conduct
—Student Pregnancy
—Maternal Health Care and Services
Abortion and Fetal Interests
—Abortion
—Wrongful Birth or Life
Adoption and Surrogacy
—Adoption
—Surrogacy
Gender, Sexuality, Women and Discrimination
—Rape
—Disability, Sexuality and Criminal Law
—Women and Criminal Law
—Legal Recognition of Intersexuality
—Gender Identity
—Sexual Orientation
—Recognition of LGBTIQ Advocacy and Groups
HIV
—Access to Treatment
—Criminalisation of Transmission
—Forced Sterilization
—Discrimination in Employment
Francophone Africa / L’Afrique Francophone
—Adultery, Polygamy, Infanticide
Appendices – Table of Cases, Online Resources, Endnotes

HIGHLIGHTS BY AFRICAN AUTHORS:
Child Marriage: Legal and Socio-Cultural Aspects, by Godfrey Kangaude
Adolescent Consensual Sexual Conduct, by Godfrey Kangaude
Sexual Abuse, Assault and Violence, by Victoria Balogun
Maternal Health Care and Services, by Tinyade Kachika
Abortion and Fetal Interests, by Onyema Afulukwe
Adoption and Surrogacy, by Ronaldah Lerato Karabo Ozah
Gender, Sexuality, Women and Discrimination, by MaryFrances Lukera
Criminalisation of HIV Non-Disclosure, Exposure and Transmission, by Jacinta Nyachae
Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women Living with HIV, by Ebenezer Durojaye
Towards Respect for Human Diversity, by Godfrey Kangaude

COUNTRIES:  Benin, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda,  Zambia, Zimbabwe

228 page book online.  Previous volumes.
Printable flyer with Table of Contents.


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates, June 2016

June 14, 2016

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

“Ireland’s abortion laws subjected a woman to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to a  landmark decision from the United Nations Human Rights Committee.”
Center for Reproductive Rights, CRR press release.   UN Press Release, June 9, 2016Newsmedia reportsDecision CCPR/C/116/D/2324/2013 online.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY IN AFRICA – SCHOLARSHIPS

Master’s degree (LLM/MPhil) in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa,  University of Pretoria, South Africa, Two-year program starts in Jan. 2017.   Blended learning course with online interaction and residential block-weeks in Pretoria, South Africa. Two contact sessions will be scheduled every year (four contact sessions over the two year period).   Apply by 31 Oct 2016. Up to 15 full scholarships available for African citizens.  African LLM/MPhil details.

RESOURCES

[abortion, U.K. and U.S.] “With advances in embryo research, it’s time to bring abortion law out of the Victorian age,” by Sally Sheldon. Kent Law School, Kent University, Canterbury, BioNews 853 (May 31, 2016)  Article online.

[conscientious objection – institutions] Contracting Religion, by Elizabeth Sepper,  in:  Law, Religion, and Health in the United States, ed. Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen, & Elizabeth Sepper (Forthcoming: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017). (Draft chapter online).

[fetal abnormality, microcephaly, Brazil]  Special issue of Cadernos de Saúde Pública 32.5 (2016) Rio de Janeiro includes a special thematic section:
“Zika and Pregnancy”  Table of Contents with links to translations.
— “Zika virus and women,” by Debora Diniz (English and Portuguese)
— “The debate on abortion and Zika: lessons from the AIDS epidemic,” by Thais Medina Coeli Rochel de Camargo, (English and Portuguese)
— “Women’s reproductive rights and the Zika virus epidemic,” by Jacqueline Pitanguy (English and Portuguese)
— “Comment on the paper by Pitanguy,” by Florencia Luna (English and Spanish)
— “Ensuring a rights-based health sector response to women affected by Zika” by Paige Baum, Anna Fiastro, Shane Kunselman, Camila Vega, Christine Ricardo, Beatriz Galli, and Marcos Nascimeno (English and Portuguese).
— “Comment on the article by Baum et al.,” by Ana Cristina González-Velez
(English and Spanish)
— “Zika and reproductive justice,” by Alexandra Minna Stern (English)

[fetal abnormality, microcephaly] “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Time of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean,” by Ana Langer, Jacquelyn M. Caglia andClara Menéndez, Studies in Family Planning 47.2 (June 2016): 179-181.  Online version.

Law and Policy updates are issued monthly by International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion.  To receive the electronic newsletter, click “Join the Campaign

[maternal deaths, Uganda]: “Why the Constitutional Court should rule on the right to health,” by Michael Addaney in AfricLaw blog,  June 3, 2016  AfricLaw blogpost,

[stereotyping] “Emerging from the Shadows: Substantive Equality and Article 14 of
the European Convention on Human Rights,” by Sandra Fredman, Human Rights Law Review 16 (2016): 273–301   Advance access.

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

NEWS

[El Salvador]  Sentenced to 40 Years After a Miscarriage, Maria Teresa Rivera was freed May 20,2016 News report in English.   News report in Spanish

JOBS

Links to other 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.

 


Preventable maternal deaths: Ugandan court decisions

May 12, 2016

Many thanks to Godfrey Kangaude, LL.M. (UFS), LL.M. (UCLA), an LL.D. candidate with the University of Pretoria and Executive Director of Nyale Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health Governance in Malawi, for composing or editing dozens of analytical summaries of African court decisions for our forthcoming volume, Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts.  Previous volumes in the series, published in 2005 and 2010 by the Center for Reproductive Rights, are freely available in print or electronic form.  Legal Grounds online.

Several of the cases involve preventable maternal deaths. Traditionally, families and communities suffer these losses silently, unless a legal advocacy organization brings the case forward.  In Uganda, for instance, the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and others brought two maternal death cases to the Constitutional Court of Uganda as human rights violations, but the petition was dismissed without consideration in 2012 as a “political” matter.[1]  In November 2015, however, Uganda’s Supreme Court ordered Constitutional Court to hear the petition on maternal health rights violations.[2]  We still await the Constitutional Court’s  ruling on the merits of CEHURD’s petition.

Just six months earlier, a Ugandan High Court  found human rights violations and awarded damages to the family of a woman who died in obstructed labour at Nakaseke District Hospital; the only doctor who could handle this complication was on duty but could not be found.[3]  As Godfrey Kangaude  comments, “the judgment is an important signal that preventable death of women during pregnancy, labour, and childbirth is a human rights issue.”

Moreover, as Kangaude explains, “Uganda is a party to the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). One of the important decisions on the subject matter under CEDAW is Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira v Brazil (Communication No. 17/2008 CEDAW/C/49/D/17/2008). The Committee on CEDAW (CEDAW Committee) considered the case of a woman who had died of complications of pregnancy as a result of delays in being provided with appropriate care by the health system.[4] The CEDAW Committee found violation of state obligations under Article 12 on the equal right to health, and under Article 2(c) in relation to access to justice, amongst others. It made several recommendations to address the systemic factors, which would apply to the Uganda context . . .” [5]

The CEDAW Committee recommended that the state:

“(a) Ensure women’s right to safe motherhood and affordable access for all women to adequate emergency obstetric care, in accordance with General Recommendation No. 24 (1999) on women and health;

(b) Provide adequate professional training for health workers, especially on women’s reproductive health rights, including quality medical treatment during pregnancy and delivery, as well as timely emergency obstetric care;

(c) Ensure access to effective remedies in cases where women’s reproductive health rights have been violated and provide training for the judiciary and for law enforcement personnel;

(d) Ensure that private health-care facilities comply with relevant national and international standards on reproductive health care; [and]

(e) Ensure that adequate sanctions are imposed on health professionals who violate women’s reproductive health rights.”[6]
_____________________

REFERENCES:

[1] Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and 3 Others v Attorney General [2012], Constitutional Petition No. 16 of 2011 (Constitutional Court of Uganda at Kampala). Decision online. Preventable maternal deaths were dismissed as a “political” matter.  Case Summary and Analysis by Nthabiseng Lelisa and Godfrey Kangaude, with special thanks to Nthabiseng Lelisa, an LL.M. candidate in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

[2]  Center for Health, Human Rights and Development & 3 Others  v Attorney General.  [2015], Constitutional Appeal No. 01 of 2013 (Supreme Court of Uganda at Kampala) [Uganda Supreme Court orders Constitutional Court to hear a petition on maternal health rights violations.]  Decision online.  Case summary and analysis by Godfrey Kangaude. 

[3] Center for Health, Human Rights and Development & 4 Others  v Nakaseke District Local Administration [2015], Civil Suit No. 111 of 2012 (High Court of Uganda at Kampala). [Ugandan High Court finds human rights violations where a pregnant woman died of a ruptured uterus and blood loss while in labour.] Decision online. Case summary and Analysis by Godfrey Kangaude 

[4] See also: Rebecca J. Cook “Human Rights and Maternal Health: Exploring the Effectiveness of the Alyne Decision”  41.1 (Spring 2013) Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 103-123,  Original publication in EnglishRepublished in SpanishTranslation to PortugueseRepublication in Portuguese journal.

[5] CEHURD v Nakaseke (note 3 above), Case summary and Analysis by Godfrey Kangaude , page 3.

[6] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,  Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira (deceased) v Brazil, Communication No.17/2008, CEDAW/C/49/D/17/2008), Recommendations, 8.2.  CEDAW decision Sept 27, 2011


Legal Grounds: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in African Commonwealth Courts   (up to 2008) Volumes I and II can be downloaded here.  Our update will be published early in 2017.  Decisions already identified for Volume III  are online here.  New case summaries are added every month.   If you can suggest other cases, please do!   How You Can Help.


REPROHEALTHLAW Updates

May 12, 2016

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

GENDER JUSTICE UNCOVERED AWARDS – Vote on the Best and Worst judgments of 2015, gathered by Women’s Link Worldwide.  Decisions are attached!  Vote by May 30, 2016.  To review this year’s nominees, click on “Cases”.

PERU: re the historic case of  K.L. v. Peru: As a teenager in 2001, K.L.was denied abortion of an anencephalic fetus who died soon after birth. The UN CEDAW Committee stated that her human rights had been violated.   In 2016, she has received financial compensation.   News report.

RWANDA – access to legal abortion for raped 13-year-old denied by first court, then allowed on appeal.    Judgment of October 30 2015, official English translation, redacted to preserve privacy. Rwandan juvenile abortion decision.

UGANDA – Preventable Maternal Deaths – 3 decisions Overview on Reprohealthlaw Blog.

Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and 3 Others v Attorney General [2012], Constitutional Petition No. 16 of 2011 (Constitutional Court of Uganda at Kampala). Preventable maternal deaths were dismissed as a “political” matter.  Decision online.  Case Summary and Analysis by Nthabiseng Lelisa and Godfrey Kangaude.

Center for Health, Human Rights and Development & 3 Others  v Attorney General.  [2015], Constitutional Appeal No. 01 of 2013 (Supreme Court of Uganda at Kampala) [Uganda Supreme Court orders Constitutional Court to hear a petition on maternal health rights violations.]  Decision online.  Case summary and analysis by Godfrey Kangaude. 

Center for Health, Human Rights and Development & 4 Others  v Nakaseke District Local Administration [2015], Civil Suit No. 111 of 2012 (High Court of Uganda at Kampala). [Ugandan High Court finds human rights violations where a pregnant woman died of a ruptured uterus and blood loss while in labour.] Decision online. Case summary and Analysis by Godfrey Kangaude 

EDUCATIONAL FUNDING

Comparative Program on Health and Society at the University of Toronto, Canada, invites applications for 2016-2017.  Complete applications due May 30, 2016.    Doctoral fellowships on “Health and human rights” and “Social determinants of health”: Doctoral fellowships.   Research Associate fellowship

O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.   – Associate position for law graduates, to work on domestic and global health law and policy projects. Apply by May 31, 2016  Associate position for law graduates

RESOURCES

[abortion – anti-choice strategy, United Kingdom]”A guerrilla strategy for a pro-life England,” by Sheelagh Mcguinness, 7.2 Law, Innovation and Technology 283-314. [how anti-abortion “guerrilla” strategies undermine reproductive rights]  Abstract and article.

[abortion and police]  Practical Guide for Partnering with Police on Abortion. The guide is for trainers and advocates, by Ipas, 2016.  Ipas Guide.

[abortion, zika virus – Brazil]  “Threats of retrocession in sexual and reproductive health policies in Brazil during the Zika epidemic,” [Ameaças de retrocesso nas políticas de saúde
sexual e reprodutiva no Brasil em tempos de epidemia de Zika] by Beatriz Galli and Suely Deslandes,   32.4 (2016) Cad. Saúde Pública (Rio de Janeiro)  Epub 19-Abr-2016  Portuguese original.  English translation.

[abortion, zika] “Using a Human Rights Accountability Framework to Respond to Zika,” by Beatriz Galli.  Health and Human Rights Journal blog, May 2, 2016.  Blog online.

[Conscientious objection by hospitals – new report] “Health Care Denied: Patients and Physicians Speak Out about Catholic Hospitals and the Threat to Women’s Health and Lives,” American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU and Merger Watch, 2016)  40-page report.   Faith-based restrictions at 550 US hospitals go far beyond abortion: news article.

[Conscientious objection by hospitals prohibited] “Healthcare responsibilities and Conscientious Objection”  by R. J. Cook, M. Arango Olaya and B.M. Dickens,  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 104 (2009): 249-252.  English abstract and article. Spanish translation.

[Conscientious objection] “The Right to Conscience,” by Bernard M. Dickens in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies, ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 210-238. Book in EnglishSpanish translation.

Conscientious Objection: articles and projects related to the Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme of the University of Toronto  Updated List.

[forced treatment during pregnancy, e.g. caesarean births] New book: Autonomy and pregnancy: A comparative analysis of compelled obstetric intervention (2016), Samantha Halliday. Table of contents and excerpts at Googlebooks

US-focused news, resources, and legal developments are available on Repro Rights Prof Blog.  View or subscribe.

JOBS

Program Manager, Women’s Health and Equality in Latin America, Wyss Foundation, Washington DC,  Apply by May 31, 2016.  Job details.

Links to other 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.


South Africa: Decriminalization of adolescent consensual sex

April 21, 2016

Many thanks to Godfrey Kangaude, LL.M. (UFS), LL.M. (UCLA), Executive Director of the Malawi Law Society and Co-Director of Nyale Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health Governance, and Phiwo Nyobo, an LL.M. candidate in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, for collaborating on a new African case summary for our forthcoming publication, Legal Grounds III: Reproductive and Sexual Rights in Sub-Saharan African Courts.  

In the first Teddy Bear case of 2013,  a South African High Court proposed decriminalization of adolescent consensual sexual conduct.[1]   Later that year, the Constitutional Court suspended all laws criminalizing adolescent consensual sexual conduct, pending review by Parliament.  As Kangaude notes, this South African decision is “revolutionary because it affirmed adolescents as sexual beings who may engage in consensual sexual conduct, and that this was in certain circumstances normal and even critical for normal and healthy development.” ([2] p.5)

On July 7, 2015, the South African government duly amended its Criminal Law, decriminalizing consensual adolescent sexuality.[3]  The Amendment was welcomed by advocacy groups [4]  and legal specialists.[5]

“South Africa arrived at the Teddy Bear decision using its Constitution and domestic laws. Some African countries [6] [7] still cling to criminal laws that treat consensual sex between adolescents as problematic.  Invariably, this creates conditions that perpetuate the thinking that consensual sexual behaviour amongst adolescents is always harmful. Yet girls and boys still engage in some form of sexual conduct. Since the norms and laws prevent them from getting the necessary support, such as sexual and reproductive health information and services, the consequences include . . . unwanted pregnancy, STIs and unsafe abortions…” ([2] p.5)

The African Commission’s General Comment on Article 14 (1) (d) and (e) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, oblige states to realize wide ranging human rights, not only for adults, but also for adolescents. As Kangaude concludes, “It is only by respecting the rights of the adolescent in matters regarding sexuality that a society will tend towards achieving better sexual and reproductive health, not only for adolescents but for everyone.” ([2] p.6]

———————————–NOTES

[1] Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and Another v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Another, Case No. 73300/10 [2013] ZAGPPHC 1 (North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria).  High Court decisionCase summary by Godfrey Kangaude and Phiwo Nyobo, 2015.

[2] Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and Another v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Another (CCT 12/13) [2013] ZACC 35;  (South Africa: Constitutional Court).   Constitutional Court decision.  Case summary by Godfrey Kangaude and Phiwo Nyobo, 2015.

[3] Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 5 of 2015 – Government Notice 593 in Government Gazette 38977 dated and commenced July 7, 2015. Amendment Act 5.   Entire Act.

[4] “Towards healthy adolescent sexuality”  by Suhayfa Bhamjee, lecturer in the School of Law at University of Kwazulu-Natal. Legal analysis of draft amendment.

[5] “Revised adolescent sex bill welcomed by Advocacy groups.”  News report.

[6] In our second case summary, p. 5, Kangaude discusses Uganda’s anti-defilement law, which criminalises consensual sex with girls under 18, citing SA Parikh, “‘They arrested me for loving a schoolgirl’: Ethnography, HIV, and a feminist assessmentof the age of consent law as a gender-based structural intervention in Uganda’” (2012) 74 Social Science and Medicine 1774-1782.

[7] For another negative contrast, see the Kenyan decision C.K.W. v. Attorney General & Another [2014] eKLR, Petition 6 of 2013 (High Court of Kenya at Eldoret), which not only upheld criminalisation of adolescent consensual sex, but ignored gender bias in the law.  Decision online.   Case summary by Godfrey Kangaude and Mobby Rusere.

[8] For further discussion of the legal, ethical and reproductive health issues , see Godfrey Kangaude, “Enhancing the Role of Health Professionals in the Advancement of Adolescent Sexual Health and Rights in Africa” (2016). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 132 (2016) 105-108.  Abstract and Article.