Sex rights still contentious - UN

2014-04-11 09:36
(Photo: file, AP)

(Photo: file, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

United Nations - The world has changed dramatically since the UN population conference in Cairo in 1994 but the UN population chief says many issues remain as contentious as they were 20 years ago, including sexual rights, abortion, sex education, lesbian and gay rights, and child marriage.

Babatunde Osotimehin said in an interview with The Associated Press that he expects a weeklong meeting of the UN Commission on Population and Development that ends on Friday to preserve the action plan adopted in Cairo by 179 countries, which for the first time recognised that women have the right to control their reproductive and sexual health and choose if and when to become pregnant.

The Cairo conference broke the taboo on discussing sexuality, adolescent sexual behaviour and the real concerns of women and families - and Osotimehin said he hopes this meeting will also address some new challenges.

While there is a perception that the post-Cold War world is more conservative, he said, "I think we still have enough progressive forces around the world to ensure that we can continue to deliver on Cairo".

The Cairo conference changed the focus of the UN Population Fund, which Osotimehin now heads, from numerical targets to promoting choices for individual women and men, and supporting economic development and education for girls. Underlying the shift was research showing that educated women have smaller families.

"All of us must accept that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls, young people, is central to human development," Osotimehin said in an interview on Wednesday.

Unsafe abortion

Cairo recognised sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for women - but not sexual rights. That came a year later at the UN women's conference in Beijing.

At this week's meeting, Osotimehin said, "we are trying to get sexual and reproductive health and rights" included in the final document.

But he said most delegates don't want to include sexual rights because "they conflate it with the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity" and believe that sexual rights "means you are condoning or nuancing" gay rights.

"That's a pushback," Osotimehin said, but he keeps arguing that this interpretation is wrong and that women should have the right to control their own sexuality outside of being mothers or pregnant, including the issue of early marriage.

In discussions on families and new family formations, he said, the LGBT issue is also "still creating the fireworks it created 20 years ago".

At the 1994 Cairo conference, delegates approved a platform recognising that unsafe abortion is a fact that governments must deal with as a public health issue to save women's lives. It did not condone abortion as a method of family planning or mention legalisation.

Osotimehin reiterated that the world must address why 8.7 million young women aged 15 to 24 resort to unsafe abortions each year, but he said the issue of abortion remains contentious and he believes the language in the final document will be similar to Cairo's.

What he would like included, he said, is recognition that the world has an opportunity to empower two billion young people under the age of 25 - including 600 million adolescent girls aged 13-19 - and ensure that they go to school, learn skills and get access to health care and comprehensive sex education.

With that, he said, "you actually have a powerful human force that will change the world".
- AP
Read more on:    un  |  gay rights  |  gender equality
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 1 795 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Somerset West

Houses R 1 999 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is easy to get bogged down by things today. The Taurus Moon highlights the comforts and pleasures of life. You may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.