Fifteen African countries have ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, affirming that reproductive rights are human rights. The Protocol mandates that women have the right to an abortion when pregnancy results from assault, rape, or incest, as well as when the woman’s mental health, physical health, or life is jeopardized, reports Population Action International (PAI). According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), this is the first international treaty to assert this right.
The Protocol improves upon the African Charter, which, according to CRR, is often used to justify the subordination of women because of its support for traditional cultural practices, including those that violate women’s rights, such as female genital mutilation (FGM). The Protocol, however, bans FGM, another first for an international document, reports CRR.
Togo became the 15th country to ratify the Protocol on October 26, and the treaty went into effect one month later, reports Southern African News Features. At least 38 other African nations are signatories to the treaty, according to PAI.