What are your Reproductive Rights?

The topic of reproductive rights has been an unnecessarily controversial issue for generations if not centuries, with millions of human beings having their reproductive rights controlled or ripped away by governments, communities and religious institutions.

Reproductive rights refer to the legal right to contraception, abortion, fertility treatment, reproductive health, and access to information about one’s reproductive body.  According to Amnesty International your sexual and reproductive rights include “being able to make your own decisions about your body and get accurate information about these issues, access sexual and reproductive health services including contraception, choose if, when and who to marry, decide if you want to have children and how many.”

The World Health Organisation elaborates on it even further by stating that reproductive rights should also cover these five key elements: ensuring contraceptive choice and safety as well as infertility services, improving maternal and new born health, reducing sexually transmitted infections, eliminating unsafe abortions, providing post-abortion care, promoting healthy sexuality, including adolescent health, and reducing harmful practices.

Having full and comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights also means that we’re are free from all forms of sexual violence, such as rape, forced abortions and pregnancy, sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

Despite cries, protests, initiatives and campaigns all over the world for the implementation of comprehensive, non-discriminatory reproductive rights for all, there are still countless policies and laws that control and restrict reproductive rights. In 2013 it was ruled in India that same-sex relations between consenting adults would continue to be a criminal act. In Nigeria in 2014 a law was passed making same-sex marriage illegal. Also in 2014, Ireland passed a law saying that abortion is a criminal offense and can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.  Discrimination, ignorance and stigma are often the underlying factors to reproductive rights violations, with marginilised and minority communities suffering the most. In Europe, there are 23 countries that require transgender people to be sterilised before their gender is legally recognised. These are not just reproductive rights violations, they’re human rights violations.

Unfortunately, there are still millions of people who have not even heard of the term reproductive rights let alone know what their reproductive rights are. At Sheba Feminine, part of our core mission is to educate our community (and beyond) about their sexual and reproductive rights so they can feel empowered when making decisions about their body, and not be influenced by any external force. We do this by sharing and creating content like this, trying our best to break taboos and stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health through encouraging conversation around these topics, as well as prioritising the inclusivity and representation of marginilised and oppressed communities.