Everything to Know About Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Everything to Know About Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Sexual and reproductive health and rights, also known as SRHR, are principles founded on gender equality. Historically, sexual rights and reproductive health have been treated as distinct concepts. However, SRHR recognizes that the sexual and reproductive rights of women are inextricably linked.

Familiarizing yourself with the sexual and reproductive rights of women will help you better understand the challenges women face domestically and globally. The core concepts conveyed by SRHR will also convey the importance of promoting gender equality through these rights.

Promoting and protecting gender equality can empower those trapped in poverty due to their inability to control their family size or decide when to bear children. By educating these individuals on these rights and connecting them with valuable resources, it’s possible to help them break the cycle.

Regardless of gender, marital status, or age, it’s essential to understand what sexual and reproductive rights entail, what constitutes a violation, and what impacts SRHR has on society.

What Is Sexual and Reproductive Health?

When discussing sexual and productive health and rights, it’s easiest to explore this concept by examining its components. The term “sexual and reproductive health” refers to a women’s right to general health and body autonomy.

Education on reproduction and sexual intercourse are also critical components of these rights. This education should teach individuals how to avoid acquiring or passing on sexually transmitted diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Sexual health is essential to general health and should be treated as such. Sexual health also impacts an individual’s reproductive health, so everyone should be aware that they are free to decide when and with whom they’ll engage in sexual intercourse.

Often, the discussion on sexual and reproductive health centres on women. However, it’s vital for men also to receive education in these matters and the ramifications their decisions can create for current or future intimate partners.

What Are the Core Reproductive Rights?

Several fundamental sexual and reproductive health rights must be offered to women to bring society closer to true gender equality. Some of the most notable SRHR rights include:

1. The Right to Choose

First and foremost, every woman should be free to choose their sexual partners and decide when and how they’ll engage in intercourse.

Promoting a woman’s right to choose is instrumental in preventing unwanted pregnancies and giving women control over the size of their families. Enforcing the right to choose also protects women from heinous sexual crimes and the repercussions that often come with them.

While all rights outlined as part of SRHR are crucial to a woman’s overall health and well-being, the right to choose is perhaps the most important, as it lays the foundation for good sexual, reproductive, and general health. It can also influence a woman’s quality of life and that of her children, should she choose to have them.

2. The Right to Access Contraception

The right to access contraception is crucial to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Contraceptives allow men and women to decide whether and when they’ll have children. Without them, it’s impossible to achieve reproductive autonomy.

Healthcare providers and other entities should facilitate easy access to various contraception methods. By doing so, they can empower women, help them prevent unwanted pregnancies, reduce their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and give them the ability to decide whether and when to start a family.

When providing access to contraception, healthcare providers must give women options.

Various forms of contraception (e.g., condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, and implants) offer different degrees of efficacy in terms of pregnancy prevention. By providing multiple options, providers can help women prevent pregnancy in a way and timeframe that aligns with their preferences.

3. The Right to Education

People can’t exercise their sexual rights if they don’t know what they are. With that in mind, the right to education is one of the most fundamental rights included in SRHR. Education should be focused on informing individuals about their rights, how to exercise them, and what impact these rights and the decisions they prompt can have on the trajectories of their lives.

As a parent, determining when to help your child start using their rights is a personal decision that you must make based on your beliefs and values. However, it’s important not to wait too long to talk to your child about SRHRs, as doing so could impede their ability to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

4. The Right to Privacy

The right to privacy guarantees that women can either share or refrain from sharing sexual and reproductive health information with others, including intimate partners, personal connections, and healthcare providers of various specialities and areas of focus.

As a rule, women have the prerogative to keep information regarding their sexual and reproductive health private, provided their past decisions won’t negatively affect the health or well-being of their current partner or the scope of their healthcare.

With that being said, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a woman has an STD, they have a moral and legal obligation to share this information with a prospective partner before engaging in intercourse. Declining to do so is unethical and could potentially invite personal or legal repercussions.

Violations of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In addition to familiarizing yourself with sexual and reproductive health and rights, you should also be aware of what constitutes a violation. Recognizing SRHR violations will help you protect your rights and those of your loved ones.

Some common violations of a woman’s sexual and reproductive rights include:

  • Poor-quality services

  • Denial of access to women-specific services

  • Requiring third-party authorization before providing access to services

  • Forced sterilization, abortion, or virginity exams

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM)

  • Early marriages

Actions like these are some of the most common and impactful means of violating women’s sexual rights. However, any act that interferes with a woman’s ability to exercise their SRHR rights constitutes a violation, including denying them access to contraception or failing to provide them with education.

Importance of Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights

Reproductive health and sexual rights empower women to take control of their lives rather than becoming trapped by momentary, short-sighted mistakes. They also promote gender equality, helping to level the social playing field between men and women.

Furthermore, SRHR can prevent unwanted teen pregnancy, help teenagers stay in school and complete their education, decrease STD rates, and enable women to break family poverty cycles.

In the long term, sexual and reproductive health and rights allow women to determine whether they want to have children and how large they want their families to be. With the costs of raising a single child totalling tens of thousands of dollars, controlling the family size is incredibly effective in helping keep women out of poverty.

Whether you’re the parent of a female child or are navigating the transition to early adulthood, the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights can’t be overstated. By educating yourself on and raising awareness of SRHR, you can improve your quality of life and that of future generations of men and women.

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