Women in Mali (archive image)
Photo: JOE PENNEY / REUTERS
According to a UN report, only around half of women and girls in poorer areas of the world have complete control over what happens to their bodies.
More than half of all women in 57 countries examined are not allowed to independently decide with whom to have sex or whether to use contraceptives, according to the UNFPA's world population report published on Wednesday.
That is outrageous, said UNFPA chief Natalia Kanem.
“In essence, hundreds of millions of women and girls are not the owners of their own bodies.
Their lives are ruled by other people. "
Many would become victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) and humiliating virginity tests or forcibly married off as children, the report warns.
The UNFPA had investigated the situation in 57 poorer countries.
The analysis included data on gender equality, sexual health and access to contraception in the countries.
"Gender inequality is the most insidious obstacle to body autonomy"
According to the report, women in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia are most affected by the restrictions.
In countries like Mali, Niger or Senegal, only around ten percent of them could decide about their own bodies.
Kanem called on the international community to be more committed to gender equality: “The right to physical autonomy means that we have the power and strength to make our own decisions without fear of violence or delegating that decision to someone else to have to."
According to Kanem, sexual taboos and patriarchal structures are the cause of discrimination against women.
»Gender inequality is the most insidious and ubiquitous obstacle to body autonomy.
It starts in the cradle, ”said the pediatrician and epidemiologist Kanem.
Corona crisis exacerbates problems
The corona pandemic has exacerbated the prevailing inequality for women and girls.
“What was bad before is now worse.
Sexual violence against women has increased with the Covid-19 pandemic, there are more unwanted pregnancies and new barriers to access to health facilities due to the loss of jobs and educational opportunities. "
Rising poverty is a reason for families to marry off their daughters, according to the report.
UNFPA had already warned last April that violence against women could increase by 20 percent in the lockdown situation.
The victims are locked up at home with the perpetrators.
The World Population Report has been published annually by UNFPA since 1978.
ala / dpa