Sveriges Kvinnolobby är på plats i New York på FN:s årliga toppmöte för kvinnors rättigheter, Kvinnokommissionen CSW. Sveriges Kvinnolobbys generalsekreterare Clara Berglund ingår i den svenska delegationen. Under FN:s Kvinnokommission arrangeras flera seminarier och paneldebatter av medlemmar i det svenska CSW-nätverket. På seminariet “Free to decide – free to choose” arrangerat av International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) höll Clara Berglund ett anförande om kvinnors sexuella och reproduktiva rättigheter som du kan läsa nedan.

Hela seminariet filmades och du kan ta del av det här.

Clara Berglunds anförande om SRHR

How do you see the role of comprehensive sexuality education in preventing violence against women? And how do you see that violence against women hinders their access to sexual and reproductive health and services in Sweden?

Sexual and reproductive health and rights includes every person’s equal right to a satisfying and safe sexuality, women’s rights to choose – if, when and how many children they want, access to contraception and comprehensive sexuality education.

Abortion is a crucial reproductive right. The last couple of years the resistance against abortion has been growing in Europe and the rest of the world, even in Sweden where the right to abortion is legally protected since 1975. This is why the She Decides initiative is so important. Together we can to stand up for the right to legal, free and safe abortions for all women.

We also stand united in the fight for contraception and comprehensive sexuality education. But in order to fully uphold sexual and reproductive rights we must also dare to talk about the perpetrator. If women don’t hold the power to decide freely over their own bodies – who or what does? The answer is – patriarchal systems, legislation and institutions but also men and boys – individually and as a group.

Men and boys infringe on women’s sexual and reproductive rights in many ways, but mainly by using violence. There is no such thing as a “satisfying and safe sexuality” for women that are raped, oppressed and beaten by boyfriends, husbands, brothers and other men in their lives.

Adding violence as a perspective makes it easier to understand sexual and reproductive health and rights as a women’s rights and gender equality issue. With that knowledge we can construct more effective gender responsive social protection systems and public services. We can target men and boys with violence prevention measures, protect and care for women and girls that have experienced violence and prosecute male perpetrators. These actions can never be done with a gender neutral approach.

Sexual and reproductive rights can also be limited by families and groups, which is the case for women and girls that are subject to honorary violence and oppression. In the three biggest cities in Sweden more than 10 percent of boys and girls in the last year of high school testify to meeting norms about honour and virginity in their families. For them sexual and reproductive health and rights is an abstract idea – far away form the reality they live in. Many of them don’t get to decide which clothes to wear, which job to take, who to hang out with after school and when to leave the home. When you don’t have the power to make simple daily choices, how can you ever influence big decisions such as who to marry and when to have children?

Social protection systems and public services needs to prevent, identify and act against all harmful practices in order to uphold women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Female genital mutilation is the very act of amputating the sexual and reproductive systems of girls and should be recognized as a profound breach of girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.

As I’m speaking about violence, I also want to mention women in prostitution. Compared to the rest of the population women in prostitution face a 10 to 40 times higher mortality rate. Prostitution is in itself incompatible with sexual rights since it includes putting those very rights out for sale.

This is why the recent initiative by the foreign ministers of Sweden and France to develop a common strategy for combating human trafficking for sexual exploitation is so important. The main focus of the strategy is to reduce the demand for girls and women in prostitution in Europe and globally.

Legislation that criminalizes the purchase but not the selling of sex combined with programs to protect and assist women in prostitution and to help them leave prostitution is a good example of how social protection systems and public services can be wired to uphold the sexual rights of some the world’s most vulnerable women.

In the Swedish Women’s Lobby we see the increasing commodification of women’s bodies as one of the biggest threats facing women’s sexual and reproductive rights today. Prostitution is one example, but the same can be said about pornography and surrogacy motherhood. Surrogacy mothers sign contracts to give up their reproductive rights for nine months, including the right to abortion.

Freedom from violence and commodification can never be separated from sexual and reproductive health and rights. Social protection systems and public services must be based on the idea that women’s bodies are their own to hold and not for others to exploit and abuse. This principle must be non-negotiable. Only then will women have “a satisfying and safe sexuality” and the right to decide freely over their own bodies.

New York, 2019-03-13