Ending Gender-Based Violence in an 8 Billion-Person World

Date:

Ending Gender-Based Violence in an 8 Billion-Person World

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • However, as the UNFPA’s 2022 State of the World Population report demonstrates, individuals around the globe – particularly women and members of marginalised groups – are frequently deprived of any control over the matter, with partners, relatives, health care providers, and even governments making or strongly influencing these decisions.

  • She decided to remain pregnant and leave her husband and his family.

  • In a 14 November op-ed for TIME, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said, “Focusing on numbers alone treats people as commodities, stripping them of their rights and humanity.”

  • Leaders setting goals for population growth or fertility rates all too frequently lead to egregious violations of human rights.

  • According to UNFPA, over 8% of women lack the authority to choose contraception, and over a quarter cannot refuse sex.

Introduction

The decision to have children is one of the most profound choices that can shape an individual’s entire life. However, the UNFPA’s 2022 State of the World Population report reveals that many individuals, especially women and marginalized groups, are denied control over their reproductive choices. Partners, family members, healthcare providers, and even governments often influence or make decisions for them. This article sheds light on reproductive violence, a concept that has gained attention among researchers due to its adverse impact on reproductive autonomy.

Understanding Reproductive Violence

Reproductive violence encompasses any abuse, coercion, discrimination, exploitation, or violence that infringes upon an individual’s right to make their reproductive decisions. Gender-based violence plays a significant role in this type of abuse, involving specific individuals such as partners, family members, medical professionals, and entire communities. Additionally, governments may perpetrate reproductive violence through institutionalized laws, such as restricting access to contraception or implementing forced sterilization programs.

Interpersonal reproductive violence can manifest as partners concealing, damaging, or forcibly removing birth control methods. In some instances, partners may resort to “stealthing,” removing a condom during intercourse without the other person’s consent. Others face reproductive violence after learning of a pregnancy, where some are coerced into motherhood against their will, while others are forced to undergo abortions.

The Impact of Social Norms

Cultural and social norms play a pivotal role in shaping ideas about parenthood and reproductive choices. Biased norms, often favoring male children over female ones, perpetuate harmful practices and beliefs. Jasbeer Kaur, a woman from Rajasthan, India, faced pressure from her husband’s relatives to undergo an abortion when she discovered she was carrying triplets, all girls. They insisted that the simultaneous birth of three girls in the same household was forbidden.

In Ms. Kaur’s case, her community reinforced the bias by considering her incomplete until she bore a son. However, Ms. Kaur defied these norms and chose to remain pregnant, eventually giving birth to three daughters who are now pursuing successful careers.

Beyond Family and Partners: Government’s Role

Reproductive violence is not solely limited to interpersonal relationships; governments and institutions can also perpetrate such acts through population-control measures. As the global population approaches 8 billion, some nations resort to questionable tactics to manipulate fertility rates. These measures may include restricting access to abortion and limiting sex education in schools.

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem has criticized these tactics, emphasizing that focusing solely on numbers devalues individuals’ rights and humanity. Implementing population control measures can lead to severe human rights violations, such as forced sterilization, disproportionately affecting racial marginalized groups, indigenous peoples, and those with disabilities.

Empowering Reproductive Autonomy

It is crucial to empower individuals to make their reproductive choices and protect their rights. Currently, over 8% of women lack the authority to choose contraception, and more than a quarter cannot refuse sex, according to UNFPA. To address reproductive violence, UNFPA is working on a technical study and measurement instrument to identify where and how these violations occur.

The ultimate goal is to create a world where all individuals, regardless of gender or background, can make decisions about their bodies and reproductive lives freely. Protecting reproductive autonomy is essential to building a society that thrives and prospers, fostering unlimited possibilities for individuals, organizations, and the planet as a whole.

Conclusion

Reproductive violence remains a significant obstacle to achieving reproductive autonomy for many individuals globally. The impact of biased social norms, institutionalized laws, and coercive measures affects the choices people make regarding their reproductive lives. Empowering individuals to make informed decisions and protecting their rights is crucial for creating a world where everyone can flourish. Addressing reproductive violence is not only a matter of individual autonomy but also a fundamental human rights issue that requires collective efforts to bring about positive change.

FAQs

  1. What is reproductive violence? Reproductive violence includes any abuse, coercion, discrimination, or violence that infringes upon an individual’s right to make their own reproductive choices.
  2. Who perpetrates reproductive violence? Reproductive violence can be committed by partners, family members, medical professionals, communities, and even governments through institutionalized laws.
  3. How can social norms impact reproductive violence? Biased social norms can reinforce harmful practices and beliefs, leading to pressure on individuals to conform to traditional gender roles and expectations.
  4. What is the role of governments in reproductive violence? Some governments resort to population-control measures, which can violate human rights and limit individuals’ reproductive choices.
  5. How can we empower reproductive autonomy? Empowering reproductive autonomy involves promoting education, access to contraception, and dismantling harmful norms and laws that restrict individual choices.

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