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Sexual and reproductive health and rights

Sexual and reproductive health and rights or SRHR is the concept of human rights applied to sexuality and reproduction. It is a combination of four fields that in some contexts are more or less distinct from each other, but less so or not at all in other contexts. These four fields are sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health and reproductive rights. In the concept of SRHR, these four fields are treated as separate but inherently intertwined.

Distinctions between these four fields are not always made. Sexual health and reproductive health are sometimes treated as synonymous to each other, as are sexual rights and reproductive rights. In some cases, sexual rights are included in the term sexual health, or vice versa.[1] Not only do different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and governments[2] use different terminologies, but different terminologies are often used within the same organization.

Some of the notable global NGOs that fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights include IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation), ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Alliance), WAS (World Association for Sexual Health - formerly known as World Association for Sexology), and International HIV/AIDS Alliance.[3][4]


Sexual HealthEdit

The World Health Organization[5] defines sexual health as: "Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence."

Sexual RightsEdit

Unlike the other three aspects of SRHR, the struggle for sexual rights include, and focus on, sexual pleasure and emotional sexual expression. One platform for this struggle is the WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights.

The Platform for Action from the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women established that human rights include the right of women freely and without coercion, violence or discrimination, to have control over and make decisions concerning their own sexuality, including their own sexual and reproductive health.[6] This paragraph has been interpreted by some countries[7] as the applicable definition of women’s sexual rights. The UN Commission on Human Rights has established that if women had more power, their ability to protect themselves against violence would be strengthened.[8]

At the 14th World Congress of Sexology (Hong Kong, 1999), the WAS adopted the Declaration of Sexual Rights, which originally included 11 sexual rights. It was heavily revised and expanded in March 2014 by the WAS Advisory Council to include 16 sexual rights:[9]

  1. The right to equality and non-discrimination
  2. The right to life, liberty and security of the person
  3. The right to autonomy and bodily integrity
  4. The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
  5. The right to be free from all forms of violence and coercion
  6. The right to privacy
  7. The right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health; with the possibility of pleasurable, satisfying, and safe sexual experiences
  8. The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its application
  9. The right to information
  10. The right to education and the right to comprehensive sexuality education
  11. The right to enter, form, and dissolve marriage and similar types of relationships based on equality and full and free consent
  12. The right to decide whether to have children, the number and spacing of children, and to have the information and the means to do so
  13. The right to the freedom of thought, opinion, and expression
  14. The right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly
  15. The right to participation in public and political life
  16. The right to access to justice, remedies, and redress

This Declaration influenced The Yogyakarta Principles (which were launched as a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity on 26 March 2007), especially on the idea of each person's integrity, and right to sexual and reproductive health.[10]

In 2015 the U.S. government said it would begin using the term "sexual rights" in discussions of human rights and global development.[11]

Reproductive HealthEdit

Within the framework of the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life.[12] Reproductive health, therefore, implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. One interpretation of this implies that men and women ought to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of birth control; also access to appropriate health care services of sexual, reproductive medicine and implementation of health education programs to stress the importance of women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth could provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. On the other hand, individuals do face inequalities in reproductive health services. Inequalities vary based on socioeconomic status, education level, age, ethnicity, religion, and resources available in their environment. It is possible for example, that low income individuals lack the resources for appropriate health services and the knowledge to know what is appropriate for maintaining reproductive health.[13]

Reproductive RightsEdit

Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health.[14] The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:

Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "IPPF Charter on Sexual and Reproductive Rights Guidelines - IPPF". 22 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Regeringskansliet, Regeringen och (1 May 2015). "Sidan kan inte hittas". Regeringskansliet. 
  3. ^ "For more about International HIV/AIDS alliance and SRHR". 
  4. ^ "For example "EuroNGOs" is a network containing 35 NGOs that work with SRHR issues". 
  5. ^ "Sexual health". World Health Organization. 
  6. ^ Beijing Platform for Action, paragraphs 92, 93 and 96
  7. ^ According to "Sweden's international policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights", downloadable at
  8. ^ E/CN.4/RES/2005/84 and E/CN.4/RES/2005/41
  9. ^ "Declaration of sexual rights'" (PDF). 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2017-11-28. 
  10. ^ " – The Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". 
  11. ^ "US government says it will now use the term 'sexual rights'". 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-09-19. 
  12. ^ "WHO: Reproductive health". Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  13. ^ Hall; Stidham, Kelli; Moreau, Caroline; Trussell, James (2012). "Determinants Of And Disparities In Reproductive Health Service Use Among Adolescent And Young Adult Women In The United States, 2002-2008". American Journal of Public Health. 102 (2): 359–367. doi:10.2105/ajph.2011.300380. PMC 3483992 . PMID 22390451. 
  14. ^ Cook, Rebecca J.; Mahmoud F. Fathalla (September 1996). "Advancing Reproductive Rights Beyond Cairo and Beijing". International Family Planning Perspectives. International Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 3. 22 (3): 115–121. doi:10.2307/2950752. JSTOR 2950752. 
  15. ^ "Gender and reproductive rights home page".