The missing dimension of equality : womens reproductive and sexual freedom in Europe in the light of international human rights adjudication

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Grosse, Barbara
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Reproduction and sexuality are issues that importantly define women’s lives and are intrinsically linked to the degree of equality that women enjoy. However, women’s reproductive and sexual freedom is a relatively new concern for the international community and for the field of human rights in particular, which partly explains the various shortcomings in the way how this issue is addressed on the national, regional and international level. Following an account of the elements of reproductive and sexual freedom as defined in the international political agenda, an overview will be given of the health-based, developmentrelated and human rights approaches employed in current discussions. In particular, the contribution then investigates the degree of reproductive and sexual freedom enjoyed by women in three selected European Union Member States in consideration of the varying influence of three major socio-economic factors, namely religion, culture, and economic factors. Another focus lies on a critical appraisal of the adjudicative work of two UN human rights treaty bodies, CEDAW and the HRC, as pertaining to issues of reproduction and sexuality. In a final synthesis, the awareness by the treaty bodies of the problematic situations identified in the national examples and the responses provided will be evaluated. The contribution concludes that there are wide disparities in the European region of the way States approach issues of women’s reproductive and sexual health and rights, and that the lack of EU action in these fields is disturbing. On the level of international human rights adjudication, the inadequate cooperation between UN treaty bodies and the inconsistencies in their integration of concerns regarding reproduction and sexuality should be remedied. To this end, the adoption of general interpretative recommendations and reporting guidelines is recommended.
Second semester University: Maastricht University.
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, gender, Europe, reproductive health, sex discrimination, European Union countries, sex role, women