Nikhat Ehsanul Haque
Reproductive Rights and Women: A Perspective
“I am going to the sea to fetch a new baby, but my journey is long and dangerous, and I may not return.” 1 Both the Native women in North America and the African Brazilian women can have one thing in common i.e. both may be forcefully sterilized, same is the case with the Black South African women and the indigenous women in the French colony of New Caledonia who are the victims intensive fertility control propaganda targeted to wipe out their population. 2 The aim of this essay is to explore the meaning and the problems of women’s human rights vis-à-vis reproductive rights. Although women have reaped the benefits from contraception services but by and large they have been abused too by such policies. Sterilization, neglect and resistance to the use of contraceptives and safe abortion services have obstructed women’s human rights. The essay aims to link the issue of reproductive rights of women with other human rights and highlight the issue of health as human right, the essay will also try to show how the right to family planning affects the other rights of women. Analyse the problems and provide solutions to the issues. Human Rights and Women’s Rights:
Human Rights are basic entitlements encompassing civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights to which every one is entitled to not because he or she is the citizen of a particular country or ethnic group rather because he or she is as a human being. Although the notion of human rights and human dignity has always been there in every culture and region in the world, however, human rights gained an enormous amount of impetus as a movement after the Second World War.3 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 has now become the constitution of the modern human rights movement. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the dignity, rights, liberty, security, and freedom of movement, ownership, religion, conscience, and movement of all the individuals. The International Covenant on Civil and Political rights which was adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1976 gives the basic civil and political rights like right to life, movement, equality before law, freedom from torture and among other freedoms forbids discrimination on the basis of race, colour and sex. On the other hand, the International Covenant on Economic and Social and cultural rights adopted in 1966 and which came into force in 1976 strives for the socio-economic rights like right to work, equal pay for equal rights, opportunity for advancement, to be paid or otherwise compensated maternity leave and right to health. These two Covenants have been very significant in the human rights movement and have become a benchmark for the society and the governments to develop and generate a human rights culture. Whereas the Civil and Political Rights guarantee the basic political or civil rights to its citizens, on the other hand, the governments have a responsibility to ensure the social and economic well being of its citizens with the adoption of the covenant on economic and social rights. Officially speaking, the concern about the women’s rights as human rights was initiated by the UN with events in 1970s.4 The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women or CEDAW adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 is often described as an international bill of rights for women. The Convention ensures the equality between men and women. It seeks to end the discrimination against women by providing equal opportunities in both the political and public life. The state parties to the convention are required to take all the appropriate actions and measures in their legislatures to provide opportunity and equal access in health, education,...