UN Shift on Women's Sexual Freedoms

By Peking, Teresa Poole | The Independent (London, England), September 12, 1995 | Go to article overview
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UN Shift on Women's Sexual Freedoms

Peking, Teresa Poole, The Independent (London, England)


Money is proving even more problematic than sexual rights as negotiations move into their final stages at the United Nations World Conference on Women in Peking.

Liberal Western states yesterday scored gains on the definitions of women's sexual rights and family structures, but are rejecting demands from developing countries that new funds be made available to promote women's equality.

Informal agreement has been reached on some of the most sensitive paragraphs in the official conference document, the "Platform for Action". By last night, the most contentious chapter, on women and health, was informally agreed. These informal accords will have to be passed by a plenary session on Thursday.

Under pressure from Iran, other fundamentalist Islamic states, the Vatican and hard-line Catholic countries, the term "sexual rights" was removed from the document. But the rest of the relevant paragraph was preserved to read: "The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence."

For the first time in a UN document, the wording recognises a woman's freedom of choice in sexual matters, not only in health-related aspects.

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