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.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

  • boris.dietrol - 2012-11-16 17:27

    Contraceptives can not be a basic human right. It is not a necessity, it is not required for survival or subsistence. This namby-pamby bullsh*t is getting out of control. Learn to stop breeding you uneducated barbarians.

      kevin.watson.7906 - 2012-11-16 21:03

      Nor is the internet, however learning not to breed is not the answer, contraception is. After all 2 of my cousins whose farther was a GP managed to get pregnant out of wedlock because of he and his wifes weird religious beliefs.

      LanfearM - 2012-11-19 12:05

      So boris.dietrol, how do you stop breeding without contraceptives? Hmmmm? Abstinence? Bwahaha! Yah right, I am sure you only ever have sex when you are trying to get a child, neh.

      alan.gernet - 2012-11-20 11:20

      in SA, Contraception should be a law! We cannot keep breeding like flies and expect things to ever get better = Smal economy + Uneducated population + lazy workforce + spiralling population growth + ineffective govt = poverty for all for ever.

  • fred.warren.986 - 2012-11-16 19:10

    If contraceptives become a human right, then i want cigarettes and booze to be human rights too.

      brian.vanderspuy - 2012-11-17 09:41

      I'm not sure the U.N. necessarily means that governments should provide free contraceptives and internet. Perhaps they only mean that where these things are available, governments may not arbitrarily take them away (as does happen in some of the world's more repressive countries.) I would agree with you that government should also not have the right to take away your booze and cigarettes! :-)

  • gary.landman - 2012-11-16 23:03

    Georgina..not many of us have a religious objection to contraception. Mostly we have a religious objection against being forced to pay for someone elses contraception. I struggle to make ends meet along with millions of others, but I must be forced to support the stupidity and lack of control of others. that is what I am against. What wil be next? Ah..I have to take a drug test to get a job, but my neighbor who refuses to work and gets government dole... its against his human rights to have a drug test in order to qualify for government aid.. You liberals have it at the wrong end. And you call the religious right crazy?

      LanfearM - 2012-11-19 11:57

      Excuse me, but how do you expect really poor rural women to pay for contraceptives? At R100 or more per month, that is something they can ill afford. That is why there are clinics, yet for them even that is not a viable option.

  • Beckie Knight - 2012-11-17 05:19

    People are breeding like rabbits some throwing babies away in dustbins and toilets and condoms have been around for YEARS! So? What the H good are condoms? People are going back to being barbarians! I notice and read about many hopeless, abused and abandoned babies and children. If we need licenses to watch TV, drive a motor car, go fishing etc - then I think it's about time that anyone who decides to have children, should go on a two-year course and then obtain a licence before deciding to have a baby. Our need for sex is NOT an essential need! We die within minutes without air, within days without water and within weeks without food. We do not die without sex! Only the re-institution of sexual morality and instilling the word “abstinence” instead of “condoms” into the minds of people, would curb and perhaps even halt the HIV/Aids pandemic.

      LanfearM - 2012-11-19 12:03

      Ag bollocks! Since when has abstinence EVER worked? Nowhere in humanity's history did people practice abstinence, except for a few monkish nut-cases of course, but not the general populace. Sex is one of the great stress released in our lives. It is one of the great and [supposedly] free joys we can experience. And you want to people to stop having sex? To only have sex when they are trying to get pregnant? Really? Dream on.

  • melanie.celliers - 2012-11-19 07:52

    People can be so short-sighted. It amazes me. So many refuse to pay for contraception for those who cannot afford it, but yet, how much of their taxes go for paying for other people's unplanned children. It's much cheaper to pay for contraception than to feed and educate a child. Not so?

      LanfearM - 2012-11-19 12:01

      Fully agreed! All those comments above from people not willing to have their tax money pay for contraceptives, yet they are also the first to complain about the poor and overpopulation. They are also usually those that shout loudest against abortion and its "evils", yet refuse to contribute to contraceptives for those that can't afford it.

  • KennySven - 2012-11-20 03:24

    I fully agree with our President,an expert on the subject.Condoms are not needed and a complete waste of money. Just take a shower,after all Retrovirals are free.

  • denny.cray - 2012-11-21 09:34

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. Suggesting condoms should be a basic human right is absurd. People really need to start viewing rights as separate from artificial entitlements. By providing a "free" condom it means someone else has to have their property / labour forcefully taken in order to provide this. Isn't this a violation of *their* property rights? By all means - people should have the right to *use* condoms. No argument there at all. People should not be able to hold a gun to someone else's head in order to get those condoms (or get a government/state authority to do the dirty work for them).

  • pages:
  • 1