Women's Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean

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In every country in Latin America and the Caribbean, women suffer acute discrimination. Often, the discrimination women face is related to social prejudices regarding appropriate patterns of conduct for men and women. This entrenched sex inequality provides the backdrop for the pervasive and widespread human rights violations women face in the region, with little chance of justice. The most pernicious types of women's human rights abuses in the Americas occur in the areas of women's reproductive and sexual health and rights, discrimination and violence against women in the workplace, and violence against women in the home. After decades of dictatorships in some countries, democracy has not meant an end to impunity for violations of women rights. In fact, despite the formal acceptance of international human rights instruments that explicitly define women's rights as human rights, many people challenge this proposition.

This challenge to women's rights is particularly prevalent in the area of sexual rights and reproductive health. Women struggle daily to gain even minimal autonomy over their intimate lives. Women may be subjected to rape, including by their husbands, while many more are denied access to contraceptives and reproductive health services, and refused the possibility to decide to terminate unwanted pregnancies with safe and legal abortions. Across the region, millions of abortions are performed every year, most of them under unsafe, clandestine conditions, and thousands of women die as a result. For example, in Argentina, women face multiple obstacles to obtaining contraceptives and risk their lives through unsafe abortions due to legal restrictions and a failure to implement even their minimal rights under existing law. As an urgent human rights matter, governments in the region must ensure women's access to safe abortions where abortion is already decriminalized, repeal laws that criminalize abortion, work toward explicit...
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