Torture and Ill-Treatment: Forced Sterilization and Criminalization of Self-Induced Abortion
Gender Perspectives on Torture: Law and Practice (Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Anti-Torture Initiative 2018)
17 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 20, 2018
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2016 report A/HRC/31/57 applying the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the experiences of people marginalized on the basis of gender catalyzes and reinforces key developments in international law recognizing the impact that gender, and its intersections with other identities, has on torture and ill-treatment. Building upon these important recognitions, this article examines two issues that raise concerns of gender-based torture and ill-treatment: forced sterilization and criminalization of self-induced abortion. The capacity for pregnancy makes women and some transgender and gender non-conforming individuals vulnerable to human rights violations based on paternalistic notions about their ability to make medical decisions. This article explores the role that “entrenched discrimination, patriarchal, heteronormative and discriminatory power structures and social gender stereotypes” play in perpetuating forced sterilization and criminalization of self-induced abortion, the serious harms that flow from these practices, and their disproportionate impact on ethnic or racial minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty. It encourages the Rapporteurship and other U.N. bodies to continue to use an intersectional analysis informed by an understanding of the dynamics of gender, marginalization, and power, and to take a firm stand against these pernicious forms of reproductive oppression.
Keywords: forced sterilization, self-induced abortion, abortion, sterilization, self-managed abortion
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