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Maria Carlota Ngombe Victor Tati

In Angola, the constitution specifically states in Article 35 that “men and women shall be equal within the family, in society and before the state, enjoying the same rights and being responsible for the same duties.” Despite these formal acknowledgements of women’s right to equality in its constitution and promulgated legislation that addresses the social, economic, legal and political aspects of gender, sexual and reproductive rights continue to be neglected, contested and often violated with impunity in Angola.

Health and the Constitution

The constitution of Angola states in the following articles that the state shall provide universal and free access to primary health care.

Article 77 - section 1. The state shall promote and guarantee the measures needed to ensure the universal right to medical and health care, as well as the right to child care and maternity care, care in illness, disability, old age and in situations in which they are unable to work, in accordance with the law. - Section 2. In order to guarantee the right to medical and health care, the state shall be charged with: a) Developing and ensuring an operational health service throughout national territory; b) Regulating the production, distribution, marketing, sale and use of chemical, biological and pharmaceutical products and other means of treatment and diagnosis; c) Encouraging the development of medical and surgical training and research into medicine and health care. Section 3. Private and cooperative initiatives in the spheres of health care, welfare and social security shall be overseen by the state and exercised under the conditions prescribed by law. Article 30 justifies these constitutional measure on health care access by referring to violable rights, stating that the “state shall respect and protect human life, which is inviolable.”

Article 23 reaffirms this statement by explicating the universality of the protection of various rights, asserting that “Everyone shall be equal under the constitution and by the law” http://www.ncbuy.com/reference/country/humanrights.html?code=ao&sec=5

Abortion – In Angola, all abortion is illegal however the law does not punish those abortions carried in the first trimester due to risks to maternal health. The articles that regulate issues related to abortion are the following: Assembleia da República Lei n.º 6/84 de 11 de Maio; ARTIGO 1.º Os artigos 139.º, 140.º e 141.º do Código (see http://portal.juventudesocialista.org/documentos/IVG-Anexo2.1.pdf)
Article 144 of the code applies criminal penalties for all abortions except those done to protect the life of the mother, and the nation’s constitution in article 30 states that “the government respects and protects the life of the human person, which is inviolable.”
The proposed change would allow abortion on demand in the first weeks of pregnancy, and depenalizes the deadly procedure for up to 24 weeks in a variety of other circumstances, including rape, fetal deformity, and danger to the “psychic integrity” of the mother. http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/angolan-pro-lifers-fight-proposal-to-remove-penalties-for-abortion/

Violence against women-A recent law enacted in 2011 establishes domestic violence as a “public crime”, meaning that anyone is entitled to report its occurrence. This is meant to assist victims who are unable or unwilling to speak out for any reason. Furthermore, the law guarantees support to victims, such as medical treatment, financial and legal help, and access to safe houses. http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/07/angola-law-on-domestic-violence-a-step-forward-for-womenrsquos-rights/

Right of people living with HIV/AIDS- Law 8/o4 on HIV/AIDS ( 2004) adopted by the National Assembly on 1 November 2000; protects the rights of persons living with HIV; in particular, this law establishes the right to employment, free public health care, and confidentiality for patients. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/population/aids/angola.aids.04.pdf

Rights on sexual minorities - Social attitudes and laws remain hostile to LGBT people in the country. The articles 70 and 71 of the Angolan Penal Code impose criminal sanctions on those who practice acts “against the order of nature”. Currently, this penal code applies to consenting same-sex adults. However, more recently, domestic and international stakeholders have highlighted the inconsistency of the penal code with international law. http://arc-international.net/global-advocacy/universal-periodic-review/a/angola

Fetal rights. In its article 30 (Right to Life) - The nation’s constitution in article 30 states that “the government respects and protects the life of the human person, which is inviolable.” http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/angolan-pro-lifers-fight-proposal-to-remove-penalties-for-abortion/ Angolan General Law of Labor in its articles ARTIGO 272º - Direitos especiais 1. Durante o período de gravidez e após o parto, a mulher trabalhadora tem os seguintes direitos especiais: a. Não desempenhar, sem diminuiçao do salário, tarefas desaconselháveis ao seu estado ou que exijam posiçoes incómodas ou prejudiciais, devendo o empregador assegurar lhe trabalhado adequado ao seu estado. b. Não prestar trabalho extraordinário nem ser transferida de centro de trabalho, salvo se localizado na mesma área geográfica e para permitir a mudança de trabalho a que se refere a alínea anterior.ARTIGO 273º - Licença de maternidade 1. A trabalhadora tem direito, por altura do parto,a uma licença de maternidade de três meses. 2. A licença de maternidade principia quatro semanas antes da data prevista para o parto,devendo o tempo restante ser gozado após este. 3. A partir da licença a gozar após o parto é alargada de mais quatro semanas, no caso de ocorrido parto múltiplo.

Sexual and reproductive rights challenges in Angola

Cultural and social factors and attitudes contribute significantly to misinformation surrounding sexual and reproductive rights. More has to be done to remove social stigma, taboos around issues related to sexual and reproductive rights of a women in Angola.