Organisations and activists demand a law on sexual rights in Bolivia

Ipas in Action
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15.12.2021
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La Paz, Dec 15 (EFE) - Trade unionists, activists and international organisations on Wednesday stressed the need for Bolivia to have a law on sexual and reproductive rights to guarantee the lives of girls and women, as well as to make policies against male violence effective.

These considerations were made at the forum "Advances and Challenges of Women's Human Rights" held in La Paz at the initiative of the Plurinational Service for Women and Depatriarchalisation, with the assistance of the Vice-Minister of Equal Opportunities, Miriam Huacani.

The first speaker was mining leader Ninfa Cayo, who mentioned among the challenges to guarantee women's rights the implementation of "sexual and reproductive rights legislation".

"This is very important because in the mining sector, families are large, there are eight, twelve, thirteen children and machismo persists a lot, so we have to work a lot on reproductive rights," said Cayo.

Her proposal was seconded by the Gender Officer of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Bolivia, Freddy Huaraz, who highlighted the importance of proposing this law so that women can decide whether or not they want to be mothers, when and with whom to become pregnant, and the number of children they want to have.

Huaraz indicated that in Bolivia, between January and October of this year, 7,073 reports of sexual crimes of various kinds against girls, adolescents and women were registered at a rate of 23 per day, in addition to 31,355 reports of family or domestic violence, that is, 103 per day.

He also mentioned that between January and September there were 1,832 pregnancies among children under 15, most of them "the result of sexual violence".

EMBLEMATIC CASE

Huaraz recalled the case of an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant as a result of her step-grandmother's constant rapes, an event that caused commotion and debate between those who defended her right to terminate her pregnancy and those who rejected the possibility.

The Gender Officer regretted all the controversy generated by those who were "more concerned with who acted how" in this case than with the "situation of the girl", who eventually underwent a termination procedure.

The interim ombudswoman, Nadia Cruz, pointed out that this case made it clear that "women's bodies are tortured as a consequence of moralistic and religious lines that should not be within the protection policies of our state".

"That is why we firmly believe that a law on sexual and reproductive rights should be worked on, not only for the legal termination of pregnancy, but also to preserve the dignity, health and life of women in our country," she said.

Cruz considered it necessary to have a regulatory framework that leaves "no room" for the Catholic Church or any other religious group to "meddle in the decisions and lives of women".

VIOLENCE WARNINGS

Huaraz and Cruz also lamented the more than a hundred feminicides registered in the country so far this year and demanded that there be comprehensive help for victims of male violence.

In this regard, Cayo said that the "high rates of feminicide" are a concern for women and stressed that the main challenge is to eliminate male violence.

To this end, the mining leader suggested including "depatriarchalisation" in the educational curriculum so that "children are educated in the right way at school and are not mistreated because they are women".

Speakers also called for more effective participation of women in politics and more effective sanctions against harassment and violence in politics.

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