The Human Rights Committee Urges Malawi to Safeguard Sexual and Reproductive Rights

In July 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (the Committee), which monitors states’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, released its concluding observations on Malawi, urging the government to take immediate steps to address reproductive rights violations.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center) had submitted a shadow letter to highlight key reproductive rights concerns. Significantly reflecting the information in the letter, the Committee’s recommendations require the government to:

  • Immediately reform its abortion law to provide for exceptions in cases of rape or incest and when a pregnancy poses a risk to the health of women, and ensure that the law guarantees that reproductive health services are accessible for all women and adolescents
  • Intensify efforts to reduce maternal mortality and adolescent pregnancies by providing adequate sexual and reproductive health services
  • Increase education and awareness-raising programs on the importance of using contraceptives and on sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Explicitly criminalize spousal rape and accelerate the assessment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to address its flaws
  • Ensure that perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence are brought to justice and provide appropriate remedies to survivors
  • Ensure that the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill unequivocally criminalizes forced and child marriages and provides for a minimum age of marriage which complies with international standards                        

The Center welcomes the Committee’s concluding observations and strongly urges the government of Malawi to fully implement the recommendations.