Human Rights Expert Calls for Restoration of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Lost During COVID |

Millions of women around the world had little or no access to maternal and newborn health care., about 14 million women lost access to contraception, and specialized services for victims of gender-based violence became unavailable when they were most needed, ”said Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng

The Special Rapporteur pointed out that blockages, movement restrictions and diversion of funds due to COVID-19 “Compromised access to basic sexual and reproductive health services.”

Introducing her report Regarding the impact of the pandemic on physical and mental health services, she also spoke of “new measures and laws in force in all regions that further limit access to safe abortion, the right to health component of sexual and reproductive services.”

Overcoming legacy

As part of the right to health, a UN expert called on states to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuild and strengthen health systems to advance the rights to sexual and reproductive health for all.

“Governments must remove barriers and ensure full access to quality services, including maternal health services, contraception and abortion services, reproductive screening and comprehensive sexuality education,” she said.

However, Dr. Mofokeng noted that many obstacles still exist between people and their exercise of their rights to health, rooted in patriarchy and colonialism, and others in structural and systemic inequalities.

Patriarchal oppression is universal, permeates all societies, and underlies the erosion of autonomy and control over girls and women’s bodies. and sexuality to the detriment of their sexual and reproductive rights, ”she explained.

“Colonialism permeates patriarchy in all regions, and its legacy continues today through laws, policies and practices that deny or restrict sexual and reproductive rights and criminalize gender identity and consensual adult same-sex relationships,” added the Special Rapporteur.

Rooted in the law

She reminded governments that the rights to sexual and reproductive health are rooted in binding human rights treaties, jurisprudence and the agreed outcomes of international conferences.

“I call on the states respect and protect the core principles of autonomy, bodily integrity, human dignity and well-beingespecially with regard to sexual and reproductive health rights, ”she said.

“I pledge to work with states and all relevant parties to safeguard the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Dr. Mofokeng and all Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN. Human Rights Council study and report on a specific human rights topic or country situation. Their positions are honorary, they are not UN employees and they are not paid for their work.

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