Attendees at legal conference in Peru made an impassioned appeal to their colleagues in Latin America to adopt a gender-based approach when practicing law
New York, NY—Leading judges, legislators, academics, and advocates gathered in Lima, Peru, from November 2-4 to discuss reproductive rights and violence against women in Latin America at the IV Latin American Legal Conference on Reproductive Rights, hosted by the Association of Judges for Justice and Democracy (JUSDEM) and the Andean Commission of Jurists (CAJ). Participation spanned the Americas, and touched on some of the most pressing reproductive rights issues in the region: from the widespread occurrence of pregnancies in girls as young as ten years old, to the increased rates of sexual assault, often perpetrated by immediate family members, to the role that governments and their judicial systems play in perpetrating reproductive injustice.
“[Lawyers and judges] need to be trained on international human rights law and reproductive rights accords. A gender perspective [to practicing law] shows us a world that is real: Judges must use it,” said Judge Baltasar Garzón, a former magistrate of Spain’s central criminal court.
“When the subject is a woman, or an indigenous person, or a person whose sexuality is not heterosexual, the rule of law is not neutral,” said Mexican Supreme Court Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero. “Stereotypes used by legal operators leave women [and people] without protection, vulnerable. Actual equality is far from formal equality if a [person’s] circumstances are not taken into account.”
Participants also highlighted research from a new report called “Stolen Lives,” which helps make the case for expanded access to sexual and reproductive health care for survivors of violence. “Stolen Lives” addresses the high rate of pregnancies in young Latin American girls aged 9-15 years and documents the detrimental consequences that unplanned motherhood has on these girls’ emotional, mental and physical health. The project was conducted in four Latin American countries (Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru), and was led by Planned Parenthood Global regional staff and partners, with support from Ibis Reproductive Health.
“Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world where pregnancies among very young girls are on the rise. We need to address the impact that these pregnancies have, particularly on the mental and social health of these girls, whose lives are changed forever,” said Ximena Casas, senior advocacy program officer, Latin America Program, Planned Parenthood Global. “Sexual and reproductive health information, along with the services that go with it, must be available to all.”
The IV Latin American Legal Conference on Reproductive Rights occurs as Latin America experiences a wave of social movements aimed at bringing light to high rates of gender violence and women’s rights violations in the region.
“The IV Latin American Legal Conference on Reproductive Rights highlighted the many barriers that women and girls, be it in Peru or the United States, face every day—systemic discrimination based on gender, class, ethnicity, age, ability, and geography,” said Claudia Huerta, conference attendee and Legislative and Political Engagement Manager at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest in California. “But it also highlighted the ingenious and holistic approaches that legal operators and women’s rights activists are taking so that everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, has full access to reproductive rights and medical care that will allow them to live the lives they want.”
For more than 40 years, Planned Parenthood Global, the international arm of PPFA, has been working overseas to ensure that women, men, and young people in some of the world’s most neglected areas have access to the health care they need to control their bodies and their futures. By partnering with local advocates, medical service providers, and youth leaders and helping to build sustainable networks and organizations, we find innovative ways to deliver critical services and fight for more inclusive laws and policies.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
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November 16, 2015