Reproductive and Sexual Rights Retreat in Europe

On Tuesday, 5 December, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights released a report entitled "Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women in Europe".
Reproductive and sexual rights back in Europe
The institution is the leading human rights organization in Europe, and it extends beyond the borders of the European Union as it comprises 47 states, all of which have signed the European Convention on Human Rights .
And the statement she makes is overwhelming:
"Despite many important achievements, women continue to face serious challenges in Europe with respect to their reproductive and sexual health and rights. […]
In addition, in several European countries, threats to the health and sexual and reproductive rights of women in recent years have begun to reign in, calling into question and weakening long-standing commitments to gender equality and universality of women's rights. "
A broad assessment of the decline in reproductive and sexual rights in Europe
This assessment of the Council of Europe is developing many problems.
It addresses sex education, contraception, abortion, taboos and stigma that are still at work in many social spheres throughout Europe.
It also does not neglect the violence that persists in health care structures such as gynecological violence, which have also been the focus of debate in France in the summer of 2017.

And everywhere, the observation is the same: in many countries, rules still hinder the rights of women, in others, they suffer regular assaults to roll back gains.
The example of the right to abortion, still flouted in 8 European countries
With regard to abortion, for example, the report recalls that eight countries and micro-states still have very restrictive abortion laws on the European continent:
"Andorra and Malta prohibit abortion in all circumstances.
In Ireland, abortion is legal only if there is a substantial risk to the woman's life and in San Marino the care to save the life of the woman is allowed as a criminal law exception.
In Northern Ireland, the only exceptions are cases of risks to life or health of the woman.
In Poland and Monaco, abortion is allowed only in case of risk to the life or health of the woman, serious malformation of the fetus or pregnancy resulting from sexual assault.
In Liechtenstein, abortion is only legal if there is a substantial risk to the life or health of the woman, if the pregnant woman is under the age of 14, or if the pregnancy results from rape, sexual abuse or use of coercion towards a defenseless or mentally retarded person.
Most of these countries also provide for criminal sanctions, including imprisonment, for women who abort outside the circumstances mentioned above and for the people who help them to have an abortion. "
To read also: 2 hours from Paris, for an abortion, we risk life imprisonment
What setbacks are we talking about?
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights highlights anti-sexual and reproductive rights and equality discourses in many countries.
As an example, do you remember Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the Polish MEP who thought last March in the middle of the European Parliament that women should "earn less" because they are "weaker, smaller, less intelligent? [que les hommes] "?
See also: Unprecedented sanctions for this old reaction of Polish MEP

But there's no need to go so far to confront old-fashioned speeches aimed at undermining equality: in France, we have The Manif for All who opposed marriage for all, at the same time sexual education, Common sense, its political emanation that made the campaign of François Fillon, or the group Survivors who throw the shame on people wishing to abort.
See also: Marine Le Pen and François Fillon will repeal the crime of digital obstruction to abortion if they are elected
But beyond speeches and the prevailing climate, laws are also in question: legislation is decreasing in terms of abortion in Armenia, Macedonia, Russia, Slovakia …
"Among the most common examples of these new procedural hurdles, which represent a setback for women's health and rights, are mandatory wait times and non-objective counseling before an abortion. "
To read also: To these MPs anti-choice: make better use of freedom of expression, rather than hinder my right to abortion
"Proposals for the near total prohibition of abortion have also been presented in recent years in Spain, the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia. "
One remembers indeed the monster demonstrations in Poland at the beginning of the year, or the attempt of decline on the question in Spain in 2015.
The Commissioner for Human Rights also recalls that in Russia, a series of retrograde laws have been passed in recent years, from "the ban on homosexual propaganda" to the law that decriminalizes certain forms of domestic violence.
It also mentions numerous complaints seeking to prove the unconstitutionality of the right to abortion, including in countries such as the United Kingdom and Sweden, some of which have led to a real regression.
This is the case of Poland, where we now recognize the grounds of conscience and religion to refuse to perform an abortion.
Overall, the report also points to the difficulty of advocating for reproductive and sexual rights, denouncing "violence, threats, hate speech and smear campaigns, especially by far-right groups or religious extremists" who target the activists.
See also: Marion Seclin Speaks in Cyber ​​Harassed, Chronicles of Impunity 2.0
Increased discrimination as soon as there are multiple factors of discrimination
The full range of women's sexual and reproductive rights challenges is compounded when women experience another form of discrimination in addition to gender-based discrimination.
For example, the report refers to the ill-treatment of women with disabilities in France:
"These stereotypes and biases, which are as harmful as they are deeply rooted, are also at the origin of many historical examples of coercive practices in Europe, such as forced or coerced sterilization of Roma women, which are widespread in countries such as the Czech Republic and the Czech Republic. Slovakia, and women with disabilities in countries like France or Switzerland. "
To assert this, the author is based on a report dating from 1998 that explains that although "sterilization is practiced in France, even on disabled people, in small numbers, although this act is illegal."
In 2011, this case had been examined by the European Court of Human Rights.
Vigilance remains in place to preserve women's rights
In sum, a lot of progress remains to be made in this area, and most importantly, this report reminds, once again, that Simone de Beauvoir was right:
"Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis will suffice for women's rights to be challenged. These rights are never acquired. You will have to stay alert for life. "
To read also: 2 hours from Paris, for an abortion, we risk life imprisonment

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