Online Program

“Regardless, you are not the first woman”: An illustrative case study for sexual rights

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:10 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Dabney Evans, PhD, MPH, Hubert Department of Global Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Rape, unintended pregnancy, and abortion are among the most sensitive topics facing sexual health advocates today. Case studies provide a useful lens to view these issues relative to women’s sexual rights. In Ocotal, Nicaragua a family friend raped Ana Maria when she was 19 years old. When she discovered she was pregnant, her rapist coerced her into having an illegal abortion, which resulted in serious medical complications. Ana Maria’s case identifies needed actions for the realization of sexual health and rights in countries with conservative social norms around sexuality. These social norms relate to sexual health, laws on violence against women (VAW), and the criminalization of abortion. Sexual rights guarantee autonomous decision making over one’s sexual experiences. Ana Maria’s story demonstrates how sexual rights often compete with conservative social norms and laws. Too many women still experience their sexuality in the context of individual and structural violence. We call for comprehensive sexual education, the enforcement of laws against VAW, and a return to the legal abortion status prior to the 2006 ban. While these actions alone will not prevent or eliminate experiences such as Ana Maria’s, they are necessary for the progressive realization of sexual rights in Nicaragua.

Learning Areas:

Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
describe a case study at the intersection of violence, unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion and its implications for sexual rights.

Keyword(s): Abortion, Violence & Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: author of numerous publications on sexual and reproductive rights.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.