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UN Human Rights Chief: To Battle Zika, Uphold Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls

(COMMON DREAMS) Andrea Germanos, February 6, 2016 — The United Nations human rights office has criticized the recommendation by Zika-affected countries that women not become pregnant, saying that response to the epidemic fails to address the widespread and unjust denial of rights to women and girls.

The response by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday comes days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreaks of microcephaly in Latin America and their possible link to the Zika virus a global health emergency.

As the New York Times reports,

The virus, known as Zika, has rattled Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly Brazil, where more than a million people have been infected and nearly 4,000 children have been born with microcephaly, a rare condition in which babies have unusually small heads.

El Salvador has urged women not to get pregnant until 2018, and

Other nations around the region have issued warnings similar to El Salvador’s, with officials in Colombia and Ecuador urging women to put off becoming pregnant for months, or until the dangers of the virus are better understood.

Echoing women’s rights campaigners UN’s Zeid said that recommendation “ignores the reality that many women and girls simply cannot exercise control over whether or when or under what circumstances they become pregnant, especially in an environment where sexual violence is so common.”  He addressed what, as Paula Young Lee writes in Dame this week, has been the three-letter word missing from the warnings: men. He stated, “Many of the key issues revolve around men’s failure to uphold the rights of women and girls, and a range of strong measures need to be taken to tackle these underlying problems.”

Source: UN Human Rights Chief: To Battle Zika, Uphold Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community