Canada attempts to block reproductive protection for rape victims.
from Amnesty International
Canada put forth text at the United Nations on Monday which could be used by governments around the world to deny healthcare access to rape survivors and limit sexuality education. Canada's new position denies the right of a young rape survivor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to have access to emergency contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.
It would be a giant leap backwards away from previous international agreements on sexual and reproductive rights, and we worry what this will mean at home and abroad.
Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. Everyone has the right to life and the right to help.
Take action now!
Send a message to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, demanding that Canada not turn its back on rape survivors. Call on Canada to make sure that survivors of sexual violence have access to sexual and reproductive health services! Here is the Amnesty letter. You can add your own message.
Dear Minister Baird,
All women and girls have the right to life and the right to health. We look to Canada as a leader in promoting these rights at home and abroad.
I am deeply concerned that the draft text of the UN Human Rights Council’s annual resolution on violence against women, prepared by Canada, puts the wellbeing of rape survivors around the world at risk.
I strongly urge you to amend the text of the draft UN resolution and include reference to:
Providing sexuality education to adolescents that would promote not just sexual and reproductive health but also gender equality and reduce gender-based violence; and
Providing survivors of sexual violence with essential sexual and reproductive health services such as emergency contraception, safe abortion, post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, and screening and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
Visit Amnesty Canada's website to send the message directly.
In a deeply troubling and unprecedented turn of events, Canada put forth text at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday which ignores an important need of rape survivors and fails to take account of recent international progress in tackling violence against women around the world.
Since 1994, Canada has led the negotiation of resolutions on violence against women in the UN Human Rights Council (and before 2006 the UN Commission on Human Rights), making the resolution progressively stronger each year. As such, it is all the more disappointing that this year’s draft resolution is so weak on the importance of sexual and reproductive health as an essential element in efforts to address violence against women.
The proposed resolution excludes references to sexuality education and a number of essential services that must be made available to survivors of sexual violence. The international community, including Canada, has previously agreed that adolescents should have access to sexuality education and that survivors of sexual violence should have access to sexual and reproductive health services. It has been recognized that education and necessary health services play a fundamental role in responding to the widespread violence that women and girls continue to face in every corner of the world. The resolution as drafted does not adequately address these rights-based measures that are central to the global effort to better protect women from violence.
“The rights of women and girls continue to be violated around the world. Amnesty International’s research demonstrates that shocking levels of violence are still a daily reality for women and girls everywhere,” said Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada (English Branch). “From women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women and girls in Canada—all rape survivors have the right to life, physical security, equality and the right to health. For these rights to be realized, women and girls must have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, and they need champions in government to stand up for these rights.”
In human rights agreements dating back 20 years, Canada has supported the rights of all women and girls, including rape survivors, to have access to sexual and reproductive health services. “Does Canada no longer care about sexual and reproductive health services and their vital importance for survivors of rape?” said Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnesty International Canada’s francophone branch. “This is not about a piece of paper being circulated at the United Nations—this is an important international decision that sets the ground for Canada’s policies on sexual and reproductive rights and funding priorities both at home and abroad.”
Canada’s failure to stand up for recognized international human rights standards has taken other governments by surprise. At this stage, many countries that have traditionally actively supported this resolution through co-sponsorship are indicating that they will likely not do so this year. In fact, the number of co-sponsors is down approximately one-third from levels last year.
Other provisions in the draft resolution, including those dealing with marital rape and with early and forced marriage, do make welcome and important contributions to addressing violence against women. However, these omissions with respect to sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive rights services remain glaring and deeply problematic.
Amnesty International calls on Canada, as the country that leads the negotiations around this resolution on violence against women, to work quickly and actively to reintroduce stronger language on sexual and reproductive health rights in the text. Without such language, this resolution will be seriously incomplete.StraightGoods.ca