Georgina Guedes

Bring on the condoms

2012-11-16 17:00

Georgina Guedes

Human rights is a term that’s bandied about by the United Nations with as much enthusiasm as a young teenager trying out a new swearword.

This is not to say that I am against the notion of having a whole slew of incontrovertible rights – heaven knows we need them – but that sometimes the allocation of an impossible-to-achieve ideal as a right dilutes the urgency with which we should be hastening to ensure all the others.

For instance, the UN would have internet access as a basic human right. I agree that it’s a fantastic thing to have, and it is an essential tool for bridging economic and educational gaps. But there are places in Africa and elsewhere in the world that don’t have, you know, electricity or comms coverage - making that whole internet access thing a bit tricky.

This being the case, I wouldn’t want any government to interrupt its efforts in ensuring that remote villagers have access to clean water or food in order to strap a massive satellite dish onto the back of a donkey to get them internet access instead.

Of course, the thing about human rights is that we should all be entitled to all of them – it’s not a pick and choose list. But perhaps there should be human rights and human nice-to-haves. Or maybe urgent human rights and long-term human rights.

That aside, a report has just been released by the United Nations Population Fund, calling for contraception to be made a basic human right. I’m all for this. In fact, I’m a little gobsmacked that it’s trailing behind the internet…

The ability to choose whether or not to bear a child is a gift from science. It supports women in being able to determine their own future rather than being subject to the whims of their reproductive system or the requirements of a partner.

As a woman with two children, a husband, a job and a home, I am delirious with excitement at the fact that contraception exists. The baby shop is shut, my body took strain, my health took a knock, my marriage had some dark patches, and now I have what I want in a family – because we planned it.

I am the woman I am today because of the things I have experienced and the relationships I’ve had in the past. If I’d had to shack up with my first boyfriend because we’d produced a child together, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today and I certainly wouldn’t have lead the life I have.

So, if a privileged, educated woman like me thanks her lucky stars every day that she can put a stop to the baby wagon, imagine what a difference contraception can make to a young rural woman who could be feeding multiple mouths with nothing, or making a difference in her life.

Those with a religious objection to contraception have very little faith in their God’s almightiness if he things that a little pill or wisp of rubber can stand between him and his desire for his people to multiply. Those who would preach abstinence over contraception can keep right on blabbing while the world’s population swells and disease is spread.

Never mind the environmental concerns of overpopulation and the fact that in the next 50 or so years, things are going to become a wee bit cramped on planet Earth.

I would like to add my voice to the United Nations’ call for contraception as a basic human right – because I believe it is that important, and it can make a difference to women, to families and to the population of the entire world.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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