11 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/jawpglob11 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization                                                         wwwiiste.org
ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)
Vol. 11, 2013                                                                                          1154

         A Critique of Incessant Violations of Women's Health and

                              Reproductive Rights in Nigeria

                    Dr. Sylvia Ifemeje ,1,  Dr. Emmanuel Obidimma2, Nneka Umejiaku3
                          1 Faculty of Law, Namdi Azikiwe University Awka, Nigeria.
                          2 Faculty of Law Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Nigeria.
                          3 Faculty of Law Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Nigeria.
The paper attempts a critique of the incessant violations of women's health, and reproductive right in Nigeria. The
paper inter alia dissects, the meaning and historical origin of health and reproductive rights of woman in Nigeria. It
further reviews the legal frameworks and policies at the national, regional and at the international levels aimed at
protecting the reproductive health rights of women in Nigeria. The paper also identifies and analyses the factors that
have impeded the full realization of health and reproductive rights of Nigerian women. The paper concludes by
proffering recommendations on the way forward in order to promote, and safeguard the health and reproductive right
of women in Nigeria.
Keywords: Women, Nigeria, Abortion, Health and Reproductive Rights, Violence

1. Introduction
The concept of reproductive health rights is relatively new in Nigeria. It entails a complete physical, mental social
wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in the reproductive system, functions and processes.
Reproductive right implies that people have the right to reproduce, regulate their fertility practice and enjoy sexual
In Nigeria, and indeed most African countries however, the reality is that, women's rights to the enjoyment of highest
standard of health is highly jeopardized and threatened by many legal social, religious and cultural impediments. In
consequence thereof most Nigerian women; especially in the rural areas have suffered incessant violations of their
health and reproductive rights. This unfortunately persists despite the fact that a plethora of laws have been put in
place at both the national, regional and international levels targeting quality reproductive rights of women. (Ladan,
It is quite disheartening and amazing that after over thirty years of Beijing conference in China and the international
conference on sexual and reproductive health rights (ICPD), held in Cairo, Nigerian women, unlike their
counterparts in other civilized countries of the world are still not in control of their sexual and reproductive health
rights (Nwusa-Juba et al).High maternal deaths are still recorded, for instance, in Lagos, almost 60,000 women die
every year from preventable pregnancy - related causes, because Nigerian government has grossly failed to
implement and fully enforce its policies on maternal health(WHO Report) .Besides our legal system still fails to
recognize that marital rape is a criminal offence despite the global trend towards criminalization of marital rape in
over 50 countries of the world since 1997 (Ifemeje 2011).
This paper therefore aims at examining and criticizing the various factors that have exacerbated the persistent
flagrant violations of women's health and reproductive rights in both public and private spheres in Nigeria. In fact
the plight of Nigerian women is best summarized by the following observation (Gbadamosi , 2010):
                 Generally, women s rights to reproductive health and autonomy in all decisions
                 relating to rights arefrequently violated. The Nigerian women like her counterparts in
                 other parts of Africa are in every context socially, culturally, economically, and
                 politically the victims of politics of exclusion, which oppresses women to the
                 advantage of men who readily exploit entrenched cultural, social and religion
                 prejudices to marginalize, discriminate and disempowered women .

1.1 The Meaning and Historical Origin of Health and Reproductive Health Rights of Women
The concept of reproductive health rights is very fundamental to the human society. Reproductive health and rights is
found on the premise that all couples and individuals have the basic rights to decide freely and responsibly the

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