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Sexual health, human rights, and the law

Author: Jane Cottingham; World Health Organization,
Publisher: Geneva, Switzerland : World Health Organization, [2015] ©2015
Edition/Format:   Print book : International government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Sexual health today is widely understood as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It encompasses not only certain aspects of reproductive health--such as being able to control one's fertility through access to contraception and abortion, and being free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual dysfunction and sequelae related to sexual violence or female  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Government publication, International government publication
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Jane Cottingham; World Health Organization,
ISBN: 9789241564984 9241564989
OCLC Number: 919484192
Description: vi, 66 pages ; 30 cm
Contents: Acknowledgements --
Executive summary I --
Introduction 1.1 --
Sexuality, sexual health and human rights 1.2 --
Laws, human rights and their importance for sexual health 1.3 --
Legal and policy implications II --
Methodology and limitations 2.1 --
Process 2.2 --
Scope 2.3 --
Search strategy and data sources 2.3.1 --
Human rights, legal and jurisprudential data 2.3.2 --
Public health data 2.4 --
Critical assessment and synthesis of retrieved information 2.5 --
Peer review and document preparation 2.6 --
Limitations of the research and the report III --
Health services for the promotion and protection of sexual health 3.1 Introduction 3.2 --
Creating enabling legal and regulatory frameworks and eliminating barriers to services for sexual health 3.2.1 --
Access to essential medicines 3.2.2 --
Conscientious objection by health-care providers 3.2.3 --
Availability and quality of health-care facilities and providers 3.2.4 --
Criminalization of sexual-health-related services 3.3 --
Ensuring quality and respect of human rights in the provision of sexual health services 3.3.1 --
Guarantee of privacy and confidentiality 3.3.2 --
Fostering informed decision-making 3.3.3 --
Skilled health-care personnel 3.3.4 --
Quality of supplies and equipment 3.4 --
Elimination of discrimination in access to health services --
addressing the specific needs of particular populations 3.4.1 --
Adolescents (under 18 years of age) 3.4.2 --
Marital status 3.4.3 --
Incarceration 3.4.4 --
Migrants and asylum seekers 3.4.5 --
HIV status 3.4.6 --
Disability 3.4.7 --
Sexual orientation and gender identity 3.4.8 --
Transgender and gender variant people 3.4.9 --
Intersex people 3.4.10 --
People engaged in sex work 3.5 --
Conclusion 3.6 --
Legal and policy implications IV --
Information and education for sexual health 4.1 --
Introduction 4.2 --
Defining sexuality information and education 4.3 --
Legal restrictions on sexuality information and education 4.4 --
Human rights standards and legal protections 4.5 --
Ensuring no arbitrary or unnecessary restrictions to information and education related to sexuality and sexual health for people under 18 4.6 --
Conclusion 4.7 --
Legal and policy implications V --
Sexual and sexuality-related violence 5.1 --
Introduction 5.2 --
Health, human rights and legal implications of different forms of sexual and sexuality-related violence 5.2.1 --
Sexual assault including rape 5.2.2 --
Sexual abuse of children 5.2.3 --
Forced marriage and sexual and sexuality-related violence 5.2.4 --
Violence based on real or perceived sexual behaviour or expression 5.2.5, --
Violence against people engaged in sex work 5.2.6 --
Trafficking for forced prostitution 5.2.7 --
Female genital mutilation 5.2.8 --
Coercive practices within health services that affect sexual health and sexuality 5.3 --
Conclusion 5.4 --
Legal and policy implications --
References.
Responsibility: Jane Cottingham [and 14 others].

Abstract:

Sexual health today is widely understood as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. It encompasses not only certain aspects of reproductive health--such as being able to control one's fertility through access to contraception and abortion, and being free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual dysfunction and sequelae related to sexual violence or female genital mutilation--but also, the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Indeed, it has become clear that human sexuality includes many different forms of behaviour and expression, and that the recognition of the diversity of sexual behaviour and expression contributes to people's overall sense of well-being and health. Developments over the past three decades, particularly in the wake of the HIV pandemic, have brought an understanding that discrimination and inequality also play a key role in whether or not people can attain and maintain sexual health. For example, those who are perceived as having socially unacceptable sexual practices or characteristics, such as being HIV-positive, being an unmarried sexually active adolescent, a sex worker, a migrant, a transgender or intersex person, or engaging in same-sex sexual behaviour, suffer both marginalization and stigma, which take a huge toll on people's health. Those who are deprived of, or unable to access, information and services related to sexuality and sexual health, are also vulnerable to sexual ill health. Indeed, the ability of individuals to achieve sexual health and well-being depends on their access to comprehensive information about sexuality, knowledge about the risks they face, vulnerability to the adverse consequences of sexual activity, access to good quality sexual health care, and access to an environment that affirms and promotes sexual health. As well as being detrimental to their sexual health, discrimination and inequalities may also constitute a violation of human rights. The achievement of the highest attainable standard of sexual health is therefore closely linked to the extent to which people's human rights--such as the rights to non-discrimination, to privacy and confidentiality, to be free from violence and coercion, as well as the rights to education, information and access to health services--are respected, protected and fulfilled. In the past two decades, an important body of human rights standards pertaining to sexuality and sexual health has been developed. This includes: interpretations by United Nations human rights treaty monitoring bodies of the content of human rights provisions; international, regional and national court decisions; international consensus documents; and reports by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, among others. These standards are made operational through the enactment and implementation of laws, regulations and policies at the national level. Laws matter because they set the rules of society and can provide the framework for the implementation of sexual-health-related policies, programmes and services. They can provide human rights guarantees, but they may also create limitations. Either way, laws and regulations have an impact on the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of sexual health. Harmonizing laws with human rights standards can foster the promotion of sexual health across and within various populations, while the negative impact of laws that are in contradiction with human rights standards has been increasingly documented. For example, laws that foster the dissemination of objective, comprehensive sexuality information, if implemented for all, contribute to people's knowledge of what protects or damages their sexual health, including where and how to seek further information, counselling and treatment if needed. On the other hand, laws that restrict women's and adolescents' access to health services--for example, by requiring third-party authorization for services--and laws that criminalize certain consensual sexual behaviour can exclude or deter people from seeking and receiving the information and services they require and to which they have a right. This report demonstrates the relationship between sexual health, human rights and the law. Drawing from a review of public health evidence and extensive research into human rights law at international, regional and national levels, the report shows how states in different parts of the world can and do support sexual health through legal and other mechanisms that are consistent with human rights standards and their own human rights obligations."--Pages 1-2.

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