Official definitions of sexual and reproductive health and rights

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Official Definitions of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Sexuality
A central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical and religious and spiritual factors (World Health Organization, Draft Working Definition, October 2002).

Sexual rights
Embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other international agreements. These include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

• receive the highest attainable standard of health in relation to sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services
• seek and impart information in relation to sexuality
• receive sexuality education
• have respect for bodily integrity
• have a free choice of partner
• decide to be sexually active or not
• have consensual sexual relations
• have consensual marriage
• decide whether or not and when to have children
• pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others (World Health Organization, Draft Working Definition, October 2002).

Sexual health
A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality: not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled (World Health Organization, Draft Working Definition, October 2002).

Reproductive rights
Embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic rights for all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to the highest attainable standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents (UN Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 5-13 September 1994, Para 7.3).

Reproductive health
A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the rights of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate healthcare services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. (UN Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development,Cairo, 5-13 September 1994, Para 7.2a).