Sexual and reproductive rights global landscape in March and early April 2014
During March and early April, Brazil was under the spotlight in terms of women’s reproductive health and rights. The Brazilian government has finally implemented the monetary and symbolic reparations determined by the CEDAW Committee in its judgement of the Alyne da Silva Pimentel Case in 2011. This was the first time in history that the Commmite –or the international human rights system at large – considered a maternal mortality case as non compliance with international norms and a violation of human rights.
Alyne Pimentel, who was 27 years old and at the sixth month of pregnancy, died in 2002 in result of bad quality, of care and negligence in the services offered by two hospitals in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. On March 25th Ms Lourdes Pimentel, Alyne’s mother, has received a financial reparation paid by the Brazilian state in a ceremony held in Brasilia with the presence of four minister and other federal authorities (In Portuguese). Also to remember the violation implied in Alyne’s death, her name was given to the women’s intensive unit inaugurated in a new maternal health hospital inaugurated in the city where she died. (In Portuguese).
These events had much prominence in the Brazilian press and the events became an opportunity to give visibility to difficulties and failures of maternal helth care, particularly in the public health system; and the persisting high levels of maternal mortality rates that are incompatible with Brazilian levels of income and the fact that more than 90 percent of deliveries occur in hospitals. Data from 2010 indicates that 68 women have died that year for 100,000 live births; this figure is much higher than the 35 deaths per 100 000 live births recommended by the UN Millennium Development Goals. This means that the gestures of reparation reported above are just the first step of much more complex policy effort aimed at implementing the CEDAW recommendations that quality of maternal care must be improved, that inequalities in the access to maternal health services are resolved and that Brazilian maternal mortality rates are effectively reduced in the years to come.
Coincidently in the same week, a childbirth case in Rio Grande do Sul erupted in the media revealing distortions that prevail in the realm of maternal health. A 42-week pregnant woman, who had decided to have a vaginal delivery at home was forced, through a judicial order followed by a police operation, to have a cesarean section in a hospital. This intervention was widely criticized by health professions, advocates of human childbirth procedures and feminists, who pointed towards the arbitrariness and violation of women’s autonomy implied in the episode. SPW has been clolselyf ollowing the case and gathered some news and opinions.
Also in Brazil, few weeks before, a manual prepared by FIFA and distributed to public school teachers working in schools of the cities hosting the World Cup games this year was also widely criticized by youth movements and civil society organizations working with HIV/Aids. This reaction was provoked by the fact that the hand book preconizes sexual abstinence and fidelity as HIV/Aids prevention using an approach that is very similar to the heavily criticized ABC policy globally promoted by the Bush administration. The Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA) issued a strong statement on the various distortion of the handbook.
The World Cup is also at the center of the report “What is the cost of a rumor? A guide to sort out the myths and facts about sporting events and human trafficking“, produced by the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) that critically interrogates dominant discourses and assumptions on the correlation between major sporting events and human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The translation of the GAATW report was launched in Brazil jointly with the research “Context Analysis of Prostitution in Relation to Human Rights, Labor, Culture and Health in Brazil” (in Portuguese), produced by ABIA, Davida and the Oswaldo Cruz Institute. This second report provides an overview of international policies related to prostitution and a preliminary assessment of human rights and HIV policies implemented today in relation to prostitution in Brazil, as seen by federal policy managers. Click to learn about the two studies (In Portuguese).
At the global level, the SPW website has disseminated information on the political moves registered in Tanzania that aim to make it more stringent criminal laws in relation to same sex relation, following the trends observed in other Sub-Saharan African countries as Uganda and Nigeria.
On the other hand it is very positive that the Indian Supreme has accepted the judicial request mobilized by the Indian queer movement and other actors requesting it to reconsider the December 2013 decision that stroke down the 2009 Delhi High Court decision that established the anti-constitutionality of article 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
In the United States, the Reality Check website reported that the Koch brothers, exponents of the financial market, are now supporting anti-abortion organizations that are engaged in the 2014 legislative elections as to expand the numbers of anti-choice Republican representatives at Congress. Click here to learn more.
Last but not least, we have also highlighted the amazing story of Claudette, a Swiss intersexual prostitute that was featured in a large number of newspapers and websites around the world (here).
Alap (Latin American Association of Population Studies) has published the book “Cairo +20: perspectivas de la agenda de poblacion y desarrollo sostenible después 2014 aimed at discussing achievements and challenges ahead in the context of 20th anniversary of the Cairo Conference (1994). The publication includes an article by Sonia Corrêa, co-chair of Sexuality Policy Watch Click to access the book [in Spanish and Portuguese].
It was also launched the 16th edition of “Sexuality, Health and Society – Latin American Journal“, edited by the Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights, which brings articles about sex work in Mexico and Colombia and on gender identity under Argentine law.