my body my rights
Amnesty International launched the “My Body, My Rights” campaign to address the sexual and reproductive rights that every person should be granted. It stresses the need for all individuals to have the power to make decisions about their own bodies and their own lives. It goes further to state that every government ought to safe guard these rights so everyone can live without fear of discrimination.

Part of the campaign lists the basic rights a person should have. The list includes:

· Make decisions about your own health
· Have access to information about health services
· Decide if and when you want children
· Choose if and when you want to marry
· Access to family planning (which includes contraception and legal abortions if justifiable)
· Live free from rape and violence

The security of sexual and reproductive rights is a fundamental problem in today’s world. According to Amnesty International, many people lack access to accurate information, sexual education and health services that they need in order to live a healthy life. For example, over 3,000 people each day are infected with HIV but of the 3,000, only 34 percent can answer basic questions about the disease and how to prevent it.

Those particularly affected by the failure to uphold sexual and reproductive rights are young women and girls. Specifically, females from poor and marginalized families often times fall victim to rights abuses. They are denied access to the health information and services they need because of discrimination. This reality can be seen in the fact that the leading cause of death in developing countries for girls 15 to 19 years old is pregnancy complications.

To demonstrate the pervasiveness of this issue, Amnesty International presents a series of little known but alarming realities. For example, more than 60 percent of teens in four sub-Saharan African countries do not know how to prevent pregnancy. Additionally, in 76 countries, sexual actions between people of the same sex are considered illegal. The problem is not limited to developing countries, as evidenced by the fact that about 83 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 16 in the United State have experienced sexual harassment.

The campaign includes striking photos of body paintings done by Tokyo-based artist Hirkaru Cho. The 3-D paintings are meant to capture Amnesty International’s messages of violence against women, marriage equality and right to health services, including contraception.

One particularly impactful photo is of a person’s face broken in two and is meant to depict everyone’s right to: choose a partner and to be open about sexual orientation and gender identity. Another image shows a stack of books on a man’s back which is meant to represent everyone’s right to know and learn about one’s body, sexual health and relationships.

Amnesty International calls for an end to all policies, social norms and other barriers that prevent people from accessing the services and information they need to lead a healthy life. It asks people to take action by petitioning to global leaders and UN representatives to better address the sexual and reproductive rights of all people.

– Kathleen Egan

Sources: Amnesty International, Huffington Post, The Independent
Photo: Femsource