CSBR NGO Statements at the United Nations
Beirut, November 2004
A CALL ON ARAB GOVERNMENTS BY THE COALITION FOR SEXUAL AND BODILY RIGHTS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES ON THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF ICPD
This Forum, marking the 10th anniversary of ICPD, which resulted in the landmark agreement and adoption of the ICPD Programme of Action, presents an outstanding opportunity for Arab countries to join their voices and reaffirm their commitment to the PoA and adopt its “rights-based approach” to enhance vital dimensions of population and human life in the Arab region.
As leading non-governmental organizations in the region, working to promote and defend sexual and reproductive rights as human rights, we applaud the reaffirmation by governments of their commitment to the ICPD PoA and ICPD+5 at previous regional meetings, including Asia Pacific in December 2002; the Caribbean in November 2003; Europe and North America in January 2004; Latin America and the Caribbean in March 2004; and Africa in June 2004. We call upon the Arab region to do the same and accelerate the implementation of ICPD and ICPD+5, in conjunction with other agreements and treaties and outcome documents most countries of the region have joined, including CEDAW, Beijing and Beijing+5. The evolving discourse on health and wellness as encompassing the totality of human dimensions, from the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual dimensions, to the biological, socio cultural, economic and political, has further revealed the importance and necessity of the human rights approach to capture and implement sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In order to eradicate the many human rights violations in the region concerning sexual, bodily and reproductive rights, including all forms of sexual and gender based violence, marital rape, FGM, honor crimes, forced and early marriages, trafficking in women or virginity tests; we call upon the governments to revise, enact and/or reinforce penal, civil, labor and administrative sanctions in domestic legislation to address and properly punish such crimes; to provide access to comprehensive, affordable and quality sexual and reproductive health information and services for all people including youth; and to adopt comprehensive “rights-based” programs and policies in the domain of sexual and reproductive health.
To this end, taboos around sexuality education, adolescent sexuality, pre-marital and extra-marital relationships, sexual orientation, unsafe abortion, post-abortion care and HIV/AIDS need to be addressed; and legal, corrective and protective measures must be developed. This can be achieved by promoting comprehensive sexuality education; enhancing affordable, accessible and equitable sexual and reproductive health services; upholding adolescents’ right to information; providing appropriate non-stigmatizing counseling; re-examining the judicial system, and accelerating holistic legal reform to promote sexual and reproductive health, and freedom from all types of coercion and violence.
Ten years after ICPD, we call again on all governments of the region to generate the political will and develop the programs and policies to turn these commitments into concrete realities.
New York, March 2005
A CALL BY THE COALITION FOR SEXUAL AND BODILY RIGHTS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES ON THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE 4th WOMEN’S WORLD CONFERENCE
We, non-governmental organizations and experts from several countries of the Middle East, North Africa and South/Southeast Asia have come together to advance, promote and defend sexual, bodily and reproductive rights as human rights. We believe that the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Conference constitutes an occasion to recall the commitments made by our governments to the Beijing Platform for Action. This decade, having witnessed important achievements in and advancement of women’s human rights, marks the culmination of an era that acknowledges women’s rights as human rights, and sexual and reproductive health and rights as an integral part of human rights.
However, many governments have fallen short of delivering the outcomes to which they have committed. Lack of democracy and intricate mechanisms of political, economic, social, legal and cultural manipulation that aim to control women’s sexuality and the many taboos surrounding sexuality forestall the full implementation of the BPFA and the realization of gender equality in our societies.
Human rights violations such as sexual and gender based violence, marital rape, FGM, honor crimes, forced and early marriages, acid attacks, mass rapes and trafficking in women and virginity tests continue to affect women in our region. Many of these problems are exacerbated by the negative effects of the ongoing wars, military interventions and economic globalization. As we have witnessed in the last decades, religious right ideologies have increasingly misused religion and culture to maintain and extend their power over both public and private domains.
The realization of the right to sexual and bodily integrity, and women’s right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality free from coercion, discrimination and violence are essential for women and girls to realize and enjoy their human rights. This requires that women have full gender equality in the family; access to economic, political, social and educational opportunities; as well as access to high quality health services in particular sexual and reproductive health services.
We call upon our governments to:
- Reaffirm the Beijing Platform for Action without any reservations, and display the political will and allocate sufficient resources for its implementation;
- Withdraw all reservations to the CEDAW and ratify its Optional Protocol;
- Revise, enact and/or reinforce all the legal system, in particular the penal codes and family and personal status codes in order to ensure full gender equality and realize sexual, bodily and reproductive rights;
- Adopt and implement “rights-based” programs and policies to ensure access to comprehensive, affordable and quality sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education and information for all, including the youth;
- Increase budgetary allocations and financial resources for programs and institutions to ensure gender equality;
- Develop policies and programs that aim to reduce and eliminate feminization of poverty.
We urge the international community to take a stand against the manipulation of political and economic power perpetuating socio-economic and social injustices; increasing political instability; the assertion of military power; ideologies that fuel racism, Islamophobia and constructed “cultural clashes” that lead to aggravation of gender inequality, violations of women’s human rights and exploitation of women and girls.
New York, May 2006
A CALL BY THE COALITION FOR SEXUAL AND BODILY RIGHTS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES AT THE 2006 HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON HIV/AIDS
We, non-governmental organizations and experts from 15 countries of the Middle East, North Africa and South/Southeast Asia, believe that the 2006 High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS constitutes an occasion for reaffirming and enhancing the commitments made by our governments and the international community at the UNGASS 2001.
We strongly believe that the current position taken by some OIC countries at this meeting does not represent the civil society perspectives and best practices regarding HIV/AIDS within our countries, as well as our commitment to the universality and indivisibility of human rights. We as non-governmental organizations, struggle on a daily basis to provide sexual and reproductive health services, reform laws that discriminate or violate human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, provide comprehensive sexuality education, combat violence against women, including marital rape and sexual abuse, reach out to and protect vulnerable groups and break the taboos associated with sexuality. Full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is an essential element in the global response to the pandemic. We underline that the taboos and the politicization of issues around sexuality are major hindrances to prevention of the epidemic in our countries. The denial of the existence of youth and premarital sexuality, extra-marital sexuality, sex work and same sex practices constitutes a dangerous threat to the well being and public health in our societies.
We are also concerned that some developed countries are failing to commit to the allocation of sufficient resources for HIV/AIDS programs and to establish measurable and time-bound Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms.
Given the imminent threat of an outbreak of the epidemic in our countries, we call upon those countries that the OIC claims to represent:
- To adopt and implement programs and policies to ensure access to affordable and quality sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education for all girls and boys;
- To promote and protect sexual and reproductive rights for all;
- To adopt measures to fully empower women and girls;
- To recognize and support active participation of vulnerable groups such as sex workers and men having sex with men and injecting drug users in policy formulation and prevention programs;
- To adopt Harm Reduction programs for injecting drug users, particularly in light of the growing transmission of HIV through drug use in many Muslim-majority countries.
We urge all UN member countries to support a comprehensive, forward-looking, and ambitious political declaration, and demonstrate active leadership in combating HIV/AIDS.