Generally, women's rights and interest are steadily being recognised and given the attention they deserve at the global, regional and national levels. Despite this recognition of women's rights at these levels, and in several human rights instruments, it should be noted that the protection and enforcement of women's sexual and reproductive health rights, particularly, has not been given sufficient attention in the priority list of some governments and the legislation they have enacted. Unfortunately, this legislative vacuum intensifies the traditional recognition and the value of women in some communities only for their childbearing ability. This, the absence of their childbearing ability automatically extinguishes such value and limits women's enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive health rights. This is the more so, because conventional African traditions, such as patriarchal customary practices do not empower women to make decisions especially on issues that relates to their own lives, families, the lives of their children, or communities. This is so because these practices are deep-rooted concepts of culture and tradition in many sub-Saharan African societies designed by men.
This article is based on the author’s dissertation submitted in partial compliance with the requirements for the degree LLM (Multidisciplinary Human Rights) 2010, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. (http://hdl.handle.net/2263/25302)
An earlier draft of this article was presented at a conference on Multi- and Inter-disciplinary Human Rights in Africa which took place on 2 and 3 June 2011 at the Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria.