Sexual and reproductive health is included in the Constitution of Mozambique through the following articles:
- Article 89: “All citizens shall have the right to medical and health care, within the terms of the law, and shall have the duty to promote and protect public health.”
- Both men, women and children have equal health care rights as mentioned in article 36: “Men and women shall be equal before the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life.”
- In article 116, the government of Mozambique commits herself to equality in health care: “The State shall promote the expansion of medical and health care and the equal access of all citizens to the enjoyment of this right.”
- In article 122, women’s rights are explicitly referred to: “The State shall promote, support and value the development of women, and shall encourage their growing role in society, in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life of the country.”
Sexual and reproductive rights implementation
- Abortion is illegal under the Mozambique’s Criminal Code, as shown by Women on Waves. Any person performing an illegal abortion, including the pregnant woman herself, is subject to imprisonment. However, in 1981 the Ministry of Health issued a decree allowing abortions to be performed in hospitals in cases of endangerment of health and contraceptive failure.
According to the United Nations World Abortion Policies 2011 the exception to Mozambique’s general prohibition on the performance of abortions is to save the life of a pregnant woman; to preserve a woman’s physical health and to preserve a woman’s mental health.
- Rights of people living with HIV/AIDS
In 2009 Mozambique adopted the Law on Defending Human Rights and the Fight against the Stigmatisation and Discrimination of People living with HIV (law nr. 12/2009). According to the United Nations, this law “reflects the commitment of the national government and civil society organisations to anti-discrimination measures; privacy rights; access to free state-provided HIV treatment; provision of HIV education; and protection of women’s property rights.“
- Rights of sexual minorities
According to the Mozambican Association for the Defence of Sexual Minorities (LAMBDA), there is no specific mention of homosexuality in the Penal Code, or in any other Mozambican legislation, that offers a base for the legal persecution of sexual minorities. This was confirmed by Mozambican government officials in the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. Sexual orientation though is ot mentioned in the constitution as a ground on which discrimination is outlawed. In addition, the legal recognation of LAMBDA was witheld in 2008 based on "morality".
- Violence against women
In 2003 Mozambique passed a new family law that, according to Oxfam, "protects a broad range of women's rights and for the first time legally recognizes customary marriages". The law represents a break with the past in the recognition of gender equality in marriage, divorce, the custody of children, land rights and the division of marital goods. Moreover, domestic violence is recognized as a cause for divorce and the minimum legal age for marriage is set at 18.
The Government of Mozambique recognizes gender equality as an essential component of social and economic development. The objectives of gender equality are included in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
In addition, the National Gender Policy and the National Plan for the Advancement of Women approved by the Council of Ministers respectively in March 2006 and October 2007 contain multi-sectoral measures to prevent and/or mitigate violence against women.
Mozambique has signed several conventions and international declarations that prohibit acts of violence against women. These include:
- the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995);
- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) that was ratified by Mozambique in 1997;
- the Protocol on Gender and Development (2008) from the Southern African Development Community.
Sexual and reproductive rights challenges
Numerous health care challenges persist in Mozambique, especially in relation to sexual and reproductive rights. Although many important documents and conventions are ratified and laws are in place, what is going on in the field is different.
Some of the problems are:
- Weakness in the involvement of women in decision-making with regard to their sexual and reproductive rights
- Child marriage
- Early childbearing
- Sexual and gender-based violence
- Health care provision that only covers a small part of the population
- Limited human resources for maternal health
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