Reproductive rights of indigenous women in Latin America : freedoms and entitlements under international human rights law and arising state obligations

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Pernthaler, Magdalena
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Although reproductive rights are an integral part of international as well as regional human rights law, indigenous women in Latin-America still face a variety of challenges concerning the enjoyment of their rights. Due to insufficient access to reproductive health care, fertility as well as maternal mortality rates among indigenous women are disproportionately high. In addition, discrimination in the health sector still is a prevailing issue. In order to determine what causes these inequalities, this master’s thesis aims at establishing what reproductive rights indigenous women are entitled to and what obligations these rights entail for states parties. A special focus will lie on the right to contraception, information and education about reproductive health. Additionally, factors that impede effective access to reproductive health care are discussed. As such barriers are to a large extent of a cultural nature, the concept of intercultural health plays a major role. In order to show how state obligations under international human rights law can be implemented in practice, the legal framework of Bolivia concerning the protection of indigenous women as well as reproductive rights is analysed. Thus, the main challenges indigenous women face in the enjoyment of their reproductive rights are contextualised with the major shortcomings of international human rights law and potential deficiencies in national legislations are identified. The findings of this master’s thesis can be used as groundwork for the development of intercultural reproductive health care programmes that take into account the specific needs of indigenous women and enable them to fully realise their reproductive rights.
Second semester University: Åbo Akademi University
Latin America, indigenous people, women rights, reproductive rights, reproductive health, discrimination, international obligations, Bolivia