World Health Day: Uphold Undocumented Migrants’ Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

BRUSSELS, 7 April 2016 – On the occasion of World Health Day, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) urges governments to change legislation and practices to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services for all, regardless of residence status.

The right to sexual and reproductive health is well established in international human rights instruments that bind all EU member states. Undocumented migrants are nonetheless frequently denied their sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). They are disproportionately affected by high rates of maternal and infant mortality, limited access to contraception and pregnancy termination, and heightened levels of discrimination and gender-based violence, including at the border, in transit and in detention.

image010The severity of the current situation in Europe, which has experienced large movements of migrants and refugees within the past year, has thrown the deficiencies of policy and practice on SRHR into even greater relief.

“The desperate trip across borders brings an untold number of new dangers for vulnerable women and girls – violence, rape, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion. Access to essential sexual and reproductive health services can be the difference between life and death. Yet it is still shamefully neglected in response strategies. If we value women’s lives, it must move from afterthought to priority,” said Caroline Hickson, Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Europe.

PICUM’s new report “The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Undocumented Migrants: Narrowing the Gap Between Their Rights and The Reality in the EU” calls attention to the gulf between restrictive national laws and policies limiting access to services for undocumented migrants on the one hand, and governments’ clear obligations and commitments to provide those services, on the other.

Read the entire press release here.

Read and download PICUM’s report here.