Sexual and reproductive health services must be available for survivors of rape in conflicts
The World Association for Sexual Health stresses that sexual and reproductive health services are crucial for recovery of sexual violence survivors in conflict zones and other situations. The United Nations must aim for survivor-focused policies in the protection of women, girls and vulnerable people during conflicts.
The Security Council of the United Nations has adopted a resolution (S/RES/2467-2019) under the title of Women and peace and security: Sexual violence in conflict, which omitted sexual and reproductive health entirely. The resolution significantly weakens the ongoing work to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of victims of sexual violence during conflicts, as well as other victims of gender-based or sexuality-based violence, harassment and oppression.
The omission of any direct references to sexual and reproductive health in the language of the resolution may have significant repercussions, especially when the omissions are linked to the global gag rule by the US against any organizations that provide abortions. Human rights organizations have reported that the gag rule has already resulted to reductions in key sexual and reproductive health services in areas, where access to such services is not assured in the first place (1).
The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) stresses that medical and psychological care pertaining to sexual and reproductive health are crucial to recovery and wellbeing of the survivors of sexual violence among other health services including mental health and therapy. Full access to sexual and reproductive health services includes emergency contraception, abortion, STI prophylaxis, psychological support, and other means for the survivors of sexual violence to control their own bodies, reproduction and relationships.
The Declaration of Sexual Rights (2014) states that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of sexual health, which includes full access to reproductive health services including abortion (Article 7). All genders have the right to protection from violence, and no survivor of sexual violence must be declined help and services regardless of their ethnicity, social origin, gender identity, marital status or any other characteristic (Articles 1 and 5).
WAS urges the United Nations and all of the member states to aim for survivor-focused and prevention policies and recommendations regarding sexual violence in conflict zones and oppressive conditions. Specific attention must be aimed at vulnerable populations like LGBTQ+ people, indigenous people, disabled people, and refugees and migrant populations worldwide. Policies and recommendations should also take into account gender-based systemic violence and oppression, intersectionality of discrimination, stigmatization and ostracism following victimization, and full accountability of the perpetrators (2).
WAS is an international organization, with more than one hundred member organizations across the globe, that promotes and advocates for sexual health and sexual rights throughout the lifespan and across the world by advancing sexuality research, comprehensive sexuality education, and clinical care and services for everyone.
1) Report by the Human Rights Watch: Trump’s ‘Mexico City Policy’ or ‘Global Gag Rule’, Questions and Answers https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/02/14/trumps-mexico-city-policy-or-global-gag-rule
2) Statement by the group of German NGO’s: https://www.gwi-boell.de/sites/default/files/statement_1325_en.pdf