Sexual and reproductive health and rights or SRHR is the concept of human rights applied to sexuality and reproduction. SRHR are fundamental human rights that are currently being denied or restricted in many parts of the world.
SRHR include issues like abortion, HIV and other STIs, maternal health and rights, contraceptive access, gender-based violence, discrimination and stigma, and more.
Social Association for Development Alternative (SADA) focus on SRHR of girls, women, men and gender diverse population across Bangladesh. For young people, their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are a crucial part of their lives – whether they are sexually active or not.
Sexual Health is a large term. When we see or hear the word “sexual health,” it is common to focus on the word sex, but did you know that sexual health is so much more than the act of “sex”?
World Health Organization (2002):
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
The National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV (2001):
Sexual health is an important part of physical and mental health. It is a key part of our identity as human beings together with the fundamental human rights to privacy, a family life, and living free from discrimination. Essential elements of good sexual health are equitable relationships and sexual fulfillment with access to information and services to avoid the risk of unintended pregnancy, illness or disease.
Reproduction is a biological process by which offspring are produced and is a fundamental feature of all life. Sexual reproduction concerns the production of new, living organisms from two individuals of different sexes. Reproductive health is far broader than this, being a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing in all matters relating to the reproductive system.
World Health Organization (2002):
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
Sexual rights refer to specific norms that emerge when existing human rights are applied to sexuality. These rights include freedom, equality, privacy, autonomy, integrity and dignity of all people; principles recognized in many international instruments that are particularly relevant to sexuality.
There is a growing consensus that sexual health cannot be achieved and maintained without respect for, and protection of, certain human rights. The working definition of sexual rights given below is a contribution to the continuing dialogue on human rights related to sexual health (WHO).
“The fulfilment of sexual health is tied to the extent to which human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Sexual rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in international and regional human rights documents and other consensus documents and in national laws.
Rights critical to the realization of sexual health include:
- Rights critical to the realization of sexual health include:
- the rights to equality and non-discrimination
- the right to be free from torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment
- the right to privacy
- the rights to the highest attainable standard of health (including sexual health) and social security
- the right to marry and to found a family and enter into marriage with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, and to equality in and at the dissolution of marriage
- the right to decide the number and spacing of one’s children
- the rights to information, as well as education
- the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and
- the right to an effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights.
The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.
“Reproductive rights” are the rights of individuals to decide whether to reproduce and have reproductive health. This may include an individual’s right to plan a family, terminate a pregnancy, use contraceptives, learn about sex education in public schools, and gain access to reproductive health services.