UN report says millions of women face restrictions on their body

Palestinian women take part in a rally commemorating International Women's Day, organised by the Palestinian Federation for Sports Culture, along the seaside road in Gaza City on March 8, 2021.​(Photo: AFP)
  • Agence France-Presse
  • April 14, 2021 7:06 AM

United Nations, United States | Nearly half the women in 57 countries around the world face restrictions on what they can do with their bodies, such as have sex, use contraception or seek health care, the UN said in a report Wednesday.

The authors of the report by the United Nations Population Fund addressed for the first time women's bodily autonomy.

The study entitled "My Body is My Own" lists attacks on women in 57 countries, ranging from rape to forced sterilization to virginity tests and genital mutilation.

The study looks at restrictions on women deciding what to do with their bodies without fear of violence or a decision from someone else on their physical integrity.

"This lack of bodily autonomy has massive implications beyond the profound harms to individual women and girls: potentially depressing economic productivity, undercutting skills, and resulting in extra costs to health care and judicial systems," the UN population fund said in a statement.

The study said only 56 percent of the countries examined in the report have laws or policies providing for thorough sex education.

"The fact that nearly half of women still cannot make their own decisions about whether or not to have sex, use contraception or seek health care should outrage us all," said UNFPA director Natalia Kanem.

"In essence, hundreds of millions of women and girls do not own their own bodies. Their lives are governed by others," Kanem said.

The report lists 20 countries or territories in which it says there are laws that allow a rapist to marry the victim so as to escape criminal charges.

It also listed 43 countries that do not have laws governing rape in married couples and says more than 30 countries impose restrictions on women's movements outside their home.

© Agence France-Presse

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