“Islam and Women’s Sexual Health and Rights in Senegal”
The objective of this study is to analyse the tensions between conceptualizations about Islam, women's sexual health and rights in Senegal. Sexual rights are defined here as the right to choose a partner, the right to enjoy sex without fear of violence or disease, and the right to physical integrity. These rights are examined through legal, Islamic and International frameworks in the context of their relevance to Senegal. The general population's, and Ulamas', positions, attitudes and behaviours about these rights were collected through interviews and focus group discussions. These research methods revealed a strong opposition, from both men and women, to women's individual choice and control over her body as far as family planning, sexuality, or abortion are concerned. Most respondents regarded these rights as "Western." In their view, the idea of equality embedded in international human rights conflicts with local cultures and religion. At the level of service delivery, a large number of health care providers still believe that unmarried women should not be given information or family planning methods. Also revealed is how Islam is used to construct and legitimize existing reproductive and sexual roles and deprive women of rights in these areas. Part of the reason why women's rights are not observed relate to the failure by Senegal to enforce international human rights treaties and conventions that it has already signed. Failure by Senegalese women's associations to give priority to sexual rights, has also contributed to lack of real progress in this area. This study is meant to be used by Senegalese women's rights activist and human rights organizations, as, inter alia, a tool for advocacy for the advancement of women's sexual health and rights.