Innovative Research Reveals the Disparity between the Laws that Protect the Rights of Latin American Women and their Application
Today the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Universidad de Los Andes School of Law (UNIANDES) released a report entitled Bodies on Trial: Reproductive Rights in Latin America, which is an English summary of the findings of Cuerpo y Derecho: Legislación y Jurisprudencia en América Latina, the Spanish-language book published in 2001.
“This is the first regional report to study courts’ application and interpretation of the law concerning the reproductive rights of women,” said Julieta Lemaitre, professor at UNIANDES, co-author and coordinator of the project.
In Latin America, where democracies remain fragile and governments’ protection of human rights has been erratic, the courts must aspire to be guarantors of the human rights of all citizens. Bodies on Trial is a response to the need for legal analysis of how effectively Latin America’s judicial systems are protecting women’s human rights, including their reproductive rights.
“When a woman’s right to decide about her own life, sexuality and reproduction is being violated, she too often has to choose between fighting a long-shot legal battle or suffering in silence, assuming she is even able to access legal assistance,” said Luisa Cabal, legal advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights and also a co-author of the book. “Judges have tremendous potential to communicate through their judicial decisions, demonstrating to communities that the law will protect women’s rights as guaranteed by national law and international treaties and thus deterring future abuses.” The original, Spanish-language book describes the political, legal and judicial systems, and then analyzes the existing laws and high court decisions from the past decade in the following five countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. The report’s findings point to a tremendous gap between national and international human rights standards and their application in Latin American courts. Bodies on Trial documents a jurisprudential trend in the region in which judges interpret the law through moral and religious filters that perpetuate discrimination against women.
This study was originated and produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights, New York, in partnership with the Universidad de los Andes School of Law, Colombia.