Honduras referred to UN human rights committee over total abortion ban

Last Updated: June 20, 2024By

Challenging Honduras’ Total Abortion Ban: A Fight for Women’s Rights

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For the first time ever, Honduras is under the global spotlight for its strict abortion laws, dragged before a human rights body for trampling on women’s fundamental rights and international commitments, say campaigners.

A Brave Stand

The Center for Reproductive Rights, alongside Honduras-based Centro de Derechos de la Mujer (Center for Women’s Rights, CDM), recently lodged a complaint with the UN human rights committee. Representing a woman named Fausia, they highlight the injustice of her forced pregnancy after a brutal rape, further aggravated by Honduras’ harsh laws.

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Draconian Laws

Honduras joins a league of five Latin American countries – Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic – where abortion is an absolute no-go, no matter the circumstance. Even cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life don’t budge the law’s iron grip. Last year, emergency contraceptives were also outlawed, tightening the screws.

Facing the Consequences

Women opting for abortion or medical professionals aiding them risk hefty prison terms. The ban got even tighter in 2021 with a constitutional tweak, making it harder for Congress to even think of a change.

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Fausia’s Story

Fausia, an Indigenous Nahua woman (a pseudonym for safety), faced a nightmare in 2015. Attacked and raped for her environmental and human rights activism, she found herself pregnant, denied emergency contraception, and then threatened by her attackers when seeking medical help. “I felt trapped,” she recounts, “the thought of carrying my attacker’s child was unbearable.”

Seeking Justice

Not only did Fausia endure the agony of unwanted motherhood, but she and her family also faced threats and displacement for seeking justice. Though her attackers got sentenced recently, the battle isn’t over yet.

A Wider Issue

Fausia’s ordeal is just a glimpse of the pervasive injustice. The ban pushes over a thousand girls aged 10 to 14 into motherhood each year, disproportionately affecting the poor and marginalized. And while abortions still happen underground, the risks remain high.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite setbacks, campaigners see a glimmer of hope in the UN’s intervention. They hope for a ruling that could set a precedent for change, challenging Honduras’ draconian laws and ushering in a new era of reproductive rights.

“Fausia,” a name that signifies strength in her native tongue, remains optimistic. “Change might be slow, but it’s coming,” she says, determined to fight for a future where women’s rights are respected.

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