Reproductive Autonomy of Women and Girls under the Disabilities Convention

reprohealthlaw blog

Congratulations to Prof. Charles Ngwena of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, whose valuable article has recently been published in the Ethical and Legal Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. We are pleased to circulate the following abstract:

Reproductive Autonomy of Women and Girls under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,”  by Prof. Charles Ngwena, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 140.1 (Jan. 2018):128-133PDF online for 12 months.          Submitted text at SSRN

Women and girls with disabilities have historically been denied the freedom to make
their own choices in matters relating to their reproduction. In the healthcare sector
they experience multiple discriminatory practices. Women and girls with intellectual
disabilities are particularly vulnerable to coerced or forced medical interventions. The
present article considers the contribution the Convention on the Rights of Persons

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The unspoken: Unsafe abortion in The Gambia and the necessity for legal reform

satang_nabanehAuthor: Satang Nabaneh
Project Officer, Women Rights Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

In the Gambian context, the right of women to an informed choice and access to family planning and appropriate health-care service remains contentious due to the socio-cultural and religions dimensions. Being a society where deep-seated traditions and the Islamic religion play a major part in the life of a person and society, issues of sexuality and procreation are generally interpreted accordingly.

The Gambia has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Africa, which criminalises abortion based on colonially inherited penal code (Criminal Code, Act no. 25 of 1933). The Criminal Code follows the abortion law as provided in the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861 and subsequent interpretation by the Courts such as in the 1938 case of R v Bourne (3 ALL ER 615, [1939] 1 KB 687).

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Violence against women and girls in Africa: A global concern to ponder on International Women’s Day and beyond

Author: Kennedy Kariseb
Doctoral candidate, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

It has been four decades since the United Nations (UN) observed for the first time International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 1975. Although there are traces of celebration of this day, dating as far back as 1909, its formal initiation came in the wake of the first World Conference of the International Women’s Year that took place in Mexico City, Mexico. Its object, as aptly argued by Temma Kaplan, is to mark ‘the occasion for a new sense of female consciousness and a new sense of feminist internationalism’.[i]

In a sense, 8 March is meant to be a day of both celebration and reflection for women the world over: a celebration of the gains made in enhancing women’s rights and the overall status of women globally, while reflecting and strategising on the voids and shortcomings still persistent in the women’s rights discourse. The occasion of the forty-third celebration of the IWD clearly marks an opportunity for feminist introspection on the broader question of violence against Women (VAW) and its regulation under international law. This is because while VAW is not the only form of human rights abuse women suffer, it is one in which the gendered aspect of such abuse is often the most clear and pervasive.

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The right to health for refugees in South Africa: Concrete reality or wishful thinking?

Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg

Scope of the study: How the ‘right to health’ is intended in this work

South Africa (SA) is one of the largest economies in Africa. Since December 2010 the country is a member of the informal association of five major emerging world economies (BRICS) and the only African country to be a member of the G20, the major international forum for economic cooperation and policymaking.

At the end of 2016, SA was reported to be hosting 91,043 refugees.

Although SA has ratified a good number of human rights legal instruments since the end of apartheid, in 1994, , the actual implementation of the rights enshrined in some of them still remain problematic. One such right is the  right of refugees to have access to adequate healthcare in the country.

This situation occurs also because access healthcare services in SA, as with many other fundamental rights in the republic, has historically been biased in terms of a number of arbitrary grounds (p. 55).

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Where is democracy? Reflections on the ascendancy of Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe

Charles NgwenyaAuthor: Charles Ngwena
Professor of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

What seemed unimaginable has happened. After an uninterrupted ‘reign’ of 37 years, Robert Mugabe, the de facto emperor of Zimbabwe, has ‘resigned’ from office. There has been genuine jubilation not least among those who have been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s increasingly despotic, corrupt and dysfunctional governance – the majority of Zimbabweans. Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken office as Mugabe’s successor. It is a historic moment. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabweans have only known Mugabe as their political supremo – initially as prime minister and latterly as president. The fact of Mugabe’s departure from office, alone, has raised hopes that we might be at the cusp of a compassionate, fairer, humane and democratic Second Republic. At the same time, the clouds are pregnant with contradictions, counselling us not to throw caution aside even as we pine for change. Why is this?

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The African Court: Need for a system-based approach to jurisprudential affirmation

Author: Sègnonna Horace Adjolohoun
Visiting Professor of international human rights law and comparative African constitutional law, Central European University;
Extraordinary Lecturer, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Principal Legal Officer, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

This article is a summarised version of a much longer commentary which shall be published subsequently.
The views expressed below are exclusively those of the author and not of the African Court.

THE IMPERATIVE OF SYSTEM-BASED LAW MAKING

When the African Court became operational in 2006, the expectation was that it will affirm the then widely criticised African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights rather than merely “judicialise” the system. The Court therefore bears the historical duty to adopt a system strengthening approach to judicial law-making. As it makes law over the years, it becomes paramount to vet the Court’s pronouncements against that raison d’être. I attempt to do so with respect to its recent decisions.

ADVISORY MATTERS

Substantively, the requests related to a varied range of matters that are both current and novel, ranging from the meaning and scope of the role of the African Union policy organs to ‘consider’ the Activity Report of the African Human Rights Commission to the modalities of litigating the crime of unconstitutional change of government. Unfortunately, the Court did not assert jurisdiction to pronounce itself on the merit of those issues.

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Conscientious Objection: African reflections on Colombian abortion decision T-388/09, by Charles G. Ngwena

reprohealthlaw blog

Congratulations to Charles Ngwena of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, whose 2014 article in the Journal of African Law is now available online.

Charles G. Ngwena. “Conscientious Objection to Abortion and Accommodating

Women’s Reproductive Health Rights: Reflections on a Decision of the Constitutional Court of Colombia from an African Regional Human Rights Perspective.Journal of African Law, 58 (2014): 183-209  Article now online.

Abstract and Overview:  If applied in isolation from the fundamental rights of women seeking abortion services, the right to conscientious objection can render any given rights to abortion illusory, including the rights to health, life, equality and dignity that are attendant to abortion. A transformative understanding of human rights requires that the right to conscientious objection to abortion be construed in a manner that is subject to the correlative duties which are imposed on the conscientious objector, as…

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