Violations of womens’ reproductive rights in Nigeria
In 1995, 187 United Nations Member States met in China to think about the broad issues and links between population, sustained economic growth, sustainable development and advances in health as well as education, economic status and empowerment of women. The agreement reached at this meeting was expressed as a 20-year Program of Action. This document gave a foundation to the discussion on sexual and reproductive health as against the former which limited the terms of family planning. However, more than twenty years after the Beijing and International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), women are still not in control of their sexual and reproductive health rights. This is the situation in Nigeria as evidenced by the number of cases of women’s rights abuses, including their innate lack of right to decide on their sexual health and the continued ignorance on issues of women’s reproductive health and rights both within the private and public spheres. For reproductive health rights to be attained like other human rights, women must be able to claim full control over reproductive and sexual rights issues as these have a direct impact on their physical, emotional and psychological well-being. While motherhood is a thing of joy, it is a source of sadness to many households as many women lose their lives giving birth in Nigeria. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, marked a paradigm shift in the focus of population programs and underscored the need to meet the reproductive health needs of individuals and couples as a key approach to improving quality of lives of people and stabilizing the world population. This paper examines the nature and scope of reproductive health, examines reproductive health as a human rights issue as well as access of women to reproductive health and analyses factors militating against the attainment of reproductive health rights in Nigeria. The paper found that the state of access to reproductive health in Nigeria is still below internationally acceptable standards and government efforts aimed at improving same is noncommittal.
Key Words: “Human Rights”, “Reproductive Rights”, “Reproductive Health”, “Freedom”