Executive Director, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Sandeep Prasad is the Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally.
Our government has a duty to protect the human rights of all people. Laws that seek to enshrine those rights and protect us from discrimination should be considered without hesitation. If enacted into law, Bill C-16 will protect some of the most marginalized people in Canada and so, it is with all our might that we need to support its passing.
In 2017, sex workers in Canada continue to live and work in unsafe conditions, face predatory and state violence, immigration raids, deportation, surveillance and arrest as well as see their human rights violated. Meaningful sex work law reform in Canada is long due.
That this presidency could have serious impacts on reproductive rights in the U.S. is clear. But another serious concern is the global impact the election will have; the U.S. is the biggest donor for reproductive health in developing countries. This could mean the closure of organizations and clinics that provide life-saving services.
The gender identity and expression bill is long overdue, with similar bills having already been introduced seven times before. But what makes this a cause for celebration is that for the first time, it's the government who is tabling the bill. Unlike previous private members' bills, this one is much more likely to pass. This bill would go a long way toward equal protections for all trans people across Canada, and could be a promising example to follow for provinces and territories who haven't yet adopted similar protections.
What the media -- and many Canadians -- fail to understand is that when the abuser is someone you know, sexual violence becomes especially complicated. Complex personal and emotional relationships often make cutting ties difficult, undesirable, even dangerous. Still, Canada's court system relies on an outdated understanding of sexual violence as an experience faced by a "perfect victim" at the hands of a "bad stranger."
A key part of being feminist is respecting all people's choices about their own bodies. While a gender-balanced cabinet is a step in the right direction, there is no such thing as gender equality without bodily autonomy. If women aren't able to make decisions about their own bodies, equality is null and void.
If prime minister Trudeau is serious about engaging with the United Nations and promoting gender equality, increasing funding for multilateral organizations that are working to advance women's rights -- which include sexual and reproductive rights -- should be top priority.
Last week, the United States Center for Disease Control issued a warning directed specifically to women about alcohol consumption. Shortly after, a report published by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada stated that "women can be more vulnerable to sexual assault or other violence when drinking beyond their capacity" -- neglecting to include any warnings for men or specify anything about the actual perpetrators of sexual violence. Let's talk about that.
As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our universal health care system. But the reality is that it isn't reaching everyone. Unless we work together to build the relationships that foster good health, people and communities across Canada will continue to be left out of the "universal" health care system. So here is what we are doing about it.
People across Canada and globally choose to end pregnancies for many different reasons. What's important is that they have options to safely carry out the decision they have made. While there are still major barriers, in Canada at last, these options are expanding. Or they will, if outdated Health Canada policies don't threaten to limit accessibility to medicine this country sorely needs.
Incarcerating mothers is commonly associated with depression, anger, poor school performance and environmental disruptions among their families, especially for their children. We are impacting entire communities spanning generations.
Millions of workers across Ontario lack access to paid sick days and job protection. For many, taking a sick day is simply not an option. This gap in access to an important protection disproportionately affects people in low-wage jobs and precarious work, a sure signal about the unfairness of employment standards.
Abortion stigma is fueled by myths. Myths that place safe, legal and accessible care and services out of reach for people worldwide and deny those who are weighing their options the evidence-based and judgment free information they need to make the choice that is right for them.
In the recent P.E.I. case, the woman, who had been advised to seek ER medical attention by the province's emergency information telephone service and who had begun to experience cramps and bleeding while waiting, was told by the ER physician to go out-of-province, to Halifax, if she wanted to receive the necessary post-abortion care -- Halifax is over 300 km away, with a round-trip bus ticket costing over $100.00. Restricted access to abortion, compounded with physicians who do not fulfill their professional duty to provide patients with timely and effective referrals or necessary service in emergency cases, creates life-threatening situations that could otherwise be avoided
Talking about consent from a very early age is about giving children and youth choices and reminding them every day that their body belongs to them; that they are in charge of what happens with/to their own bodies. Sexual health doesn't happen in a vacuum and it's about more than the birds and the bees. The well-researched and evidence-based curriculum that is being introduced broadens a narrow definition of health and to us it's a positive step forward.
UNFPA released its 2013 State of World Population Report on the theme of adolescent pregnancy globally. The report draws critical links between the issue of adolescent pregnancy, early and forced marriage, sexual violence and maternal mortality -- all priority development issues for the Canadian government.