Comunicados y Declaraciones
Manifiesto que orienta la Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y los Derechos Reproductivos. (versión en inglés)
Autores corporativos:
Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y los Derechos Reproductivos (autoría)
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (autoría; canal)

Autores personales:
Hierro, Graciela (Autor/a)
Maffía, Diana (Autor/a)
Sequeira, Deis (Autor/a)

Lima (Perú)
El texto es el Manifiesto por el cual diversas organizaciones de América Latina señalan por qué es necesaria una Convención sobre derechos sexuales y reproductivos.

En él se plantea que la sexualidad y la reproducción, han pasado y siguen pasando por diferentes miradas, dependiendo del momento y del lugar en el que nos encontremos. La ausencia de información para las grandes mayorías permanece y la expansión de la libertad en estos terrenos fue sustituida por mandatos únicos, que de diferentes maneras una de las privilegiadas fue precisamente la religión fueron sedimentando progresivamente ideas fijas sobre estos campos, que simultáneamente se plasmaron en leyes nacionales.

En consecuencia, estas dimensiones de tanta importancia en la vida de la gente fueron ocupando el lugar que los poderes de turno les fueron asignando, siempre desde la imposición de un determinado modelo de vida, desde la óptica de las obligaciones, intentando extirpar toda disidencia, diversidad y diferencia. Ello aunado a una doble moral que se hace más fuerte en estos ámbitos, en donde lo que se predica dista mucho de lo que se practica.
Actividades relacionadas:
IV Foro Internacional Democracia y Cooperación
Publicado en:
Gloobalhoy nº14 - 15
Secciones GloobalHoy:
015- Ella, el,-las, los...
Campañas ; Derechos de las mujeres ; Derechos humanos ; Derechos sexuales y reproductivos ; FIDC ; IV Foro ; Realidad social ; Salud sexual y reproductiva
América Latina
     I. History.
     II. New Scenarios.
          The contradictory dynamics.
          Structures of flourishment.
     III. The New Meaning of Rights.
          Sexual and reproductive rights.
          The cultural dimension , diversity and inequality.
          Individuality versus individualism?.
     IV. Essential Principles of Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
          Universality-diversity- inequality.
          Poverty is incompatible with human rights.
          Doing away with the liberal perspective of liberty.
          The recovery of the body as a political space.
          Happiness and the quest for new egalitarian learning.
          Secularity of states.
     IV. Core Issues.
          Relation between maternity- paternity and social conditions for reproduction: conception, contraception and abortion.
          Non - acceptance of the commercialization of conditions for production of life.
          Democratization of the conditions for scientific and technological production in the field of sexuality and reproduction.
          Recognition and celebration of the diversity of existing gender expressions.
          Construction of an emancipatory code of public ethics that would substitute the existing public moral.
The Campaign for an Inter American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights was launched at the end of the year 1999. The Manifesto of the Campaign, in its first version for debate, was circulated from November 2002 onwards among all organizations and people who were already involved in our Campaign and also among those with whom we had managed to establish contact. These included civil society organizations in our region and in other parts of the world.

It is after an interesting process of consultation, reflection and criticism, and thanks to the immense and productive contribution of many people, that we have managed to draft this second version, which is a political charter and at the same time a proposal that contributes towards laying the foundation for a future Inter American Convention on sexual rights and reproductive rights.

Today we once again bring you the results of this process, which through its reflections and actions, has greatly enriched the challenging path of promotion and defense of sexual and reproductive rights.

We hope you enjoy reading it and we would be happy to receive your comments at [email protected]

I. History.
The proposal for an inter American Convention on Sexual Rights and Reproductive Rights was born of an alliance between feminist organizations, networks and campaigns in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is thus marked by our collective and personal histories in relation to sexuality and reproduction. A history that begins with a wide variety of civilizations in which the status of women, the number and forms of genders and accepted as well as condemned sexual practices were as diverse as the languages, social systems and modes of worship in them. It continues with the violence of the Conquest that established the Judeo-Christian order by blood, fire and the Bible. Our history is also one of the genocide of slaves; one of languages, gender identities, of the various forms of desire and ways of giving birth (or not), which were banished forever into the dark recesses of the porões[1]. It is violence that founded our States at the point of a sword and our mestizaje in rape. Guardianship that was imposed on races, sexes, ages, desires and lesser beings using the law, the baton and the cross to do so. Our history is one of violence and guardianship but it is at the same time a history of resistance.

  1. ® Cellars.

II. New Scenarios.
With the shift from industrial capitalism to a financial, globalized and networked capitalism, the scenarios in which strategies for change unfold have changed dramatically. Globalization in its multidimensionality has implied new forms of social organization, altering the meaning of space (for the first time the planet becomes the referential horizon) and time (there is real-time observation of phenomena). Globalization has made it difficult to envision the future and has brought uncertainty into daily life, transforming traditional identities and questioning old truths.

This has brought with it not only an intense epoch of change but also a change of epochs[2], similar to what the discovery of the wheel or the industrial revolution brought about, with the consequent breaking down of the paradigms that governed the spheres of daily life, economy and politics. The impact of these processes on the cultural, subjective and symbolic dimensions of society and citizenship is enormous yet at the same time ambivalent. The complexity and unequal development of the different dimensions of globalization economic, political, technological, cultural, and emotional tend to exacerbate existing exclusions, in a context where the hegemonism of the neo-liberal focus prioritizes market logic and facilitates the ungoverned power without any controls or regulations whatsoever of the transnational capital.

Even though these multiple processes have resulted in defensive attitudes, greater individualism and growing fragmentation, they have in turn opened up hitherto unimagined horizons by impelling the emergence of new subjectivities, identities and social actors. Thus new possibilities for expansion of the content of citizenship have emerged, given the conquest of new rights and experimentation with different citizen dynamics in the local and global space. Thus, globalization according to Waterman is a threat, but it is also a promise and a possibility. By privileging free market economy over the welfare of citizens, the current globalization model sub- ordinates politics to economy. Given this ethical distortion, a new paradigm of politics that restores its centrality and rejects the idea of the social and political as being subordinate to and supplementary to the economy is urgently required, in order to restore and re-politicize democracy, articulating social changes with subjective and personal changes.

The common focus of the new paradigm for a radical democracy is the resistance to hegemonic globalization and the formulation of alternatives based on diversity, in order to restore the idea that human dignity is inalienable, indivisible and can only flourish in equilibrium with nature and a social organization that does not reduce values to the market price[3].

Thus the historical challenge lies in incorporating, as an essential dimension of the new paradigms, hitherto unprecedented forms of relations between persons, with their bodies and their sexualities, thus creating conditions for another way of living together in a world as one whole. This nurtures new social subjectivities and widens the spaces of transformation, creating new citizenship dimensions in the imagery of persons and society.

  1. ® Lechner.

  2. ® Boaventura de Souza Santos

  The contradictory dynamics.
The changes wrought by globalization have also weakened archaic customs and traditional perceptions, such as the relationship between sexes, paving the way for the public and political emergence of plastic and flexible sexualities. For the very same reasons, globalization also fosters growing fundamentalisms that are nurtured by the processes of change. People are now more in touch with ideas of autonomy, individuation, freedom and equality, thus being able to modify their selfperception and their status as the subjects of rights.

The gender paradigm itself has changed and it is no longer supported by the old capitalist model of the male as provider and the female relegated to the domestic sphere. Women have politicized the domestic sphere and the role of the male as a provider has been eroded. The restoration of a more complex view of gender has been achieved, overcoming the reductionist perspective that situates it as a binary opposition between men and women, and incorporating into gender ontology not only those possibilities opened up by transvestites, transgender, transsexual and intersex persons, but also a constant resignification of what being a male or female implies in our culture.

All this has led to a greater recognition of plurality and diversity, both in terms of sexuality as well as family, and the awareness of the inadequacy of social structures and political institutions in expressing this recognition.

However, in spite of the processes of individuation and a greater awareness of womens rights and of other subjects characterized by non-hegemonic experiences of the body, gender and sexuality, the progress made has basically left the aspect of sexual division of labour as an organizational form of society untouched. Thus making their multiple working days more overwhelming and time that is the lack of it into a place of subjugation. The networks created by women to collectively perform some of the tasks ascribed to them, although significant, lead to the onus of daily domestic chores continuing to fall on women. The negative effects of this form of organization on their health and sexuality, reproductive capacity, autonomy, their quest for pleasure and political participation that is to say on the entire process of their growth as political subjects and social actors, are evidently terrifying.

There are no easy answers. Reconceptualizing politics, economy, national and global powers also requires the reviewing of arbitrary categories and concepts that currently organize life and asign citizenship. We must reject, for example, the view of poverty as an apolitical phenomenon and must politicize the reasons why it exists in a world where the development of productive forces creates great wealth. The crucial issue is not poverty but the tremendous inequity in the redistribution of wealth.

We must review notions such as public interest, which has become a key element in the structuring of the State and in the existing logic of domination. The public interest endangers or fails to recognize the basic rights of citizens as it identifies with and is at the service of the market and of economic investment by multinationals, ignoring respect for and protection of the individual and collective rights of people. By this logic, a mining company would contribute much more to the public good than a community that witnesses the contamination of its waters and the loss of its lands. The damage to citizenships due to the exacerbation of individual and private interests which become public interest , must be restored as a category of awareness and legislation.

The State undoubtedly is responsible for drafting macroeconomic and citizen welfare policies. However, in the hegemonic model the rejection of state intervention has been constant, but selective. On the one hand it has taken on funding of adjustment and market liberalization policies, and on the other hand the political costs of a drastic reduction in public services; and, at the same time, it has experienced an enormous debilitation of its functions in the promotion and defence of human rights. The achievement of economic development with equity is a challenge that is yet to be taken up in our region, which is the most inequitable region in the world. The hegemonic productivist logic of neoliberal capitalism best expresses the predominance of the market over citizenship and obscures the notion of work as inseparable from welfare, pleasure, leisure; personal and collective realization, and not merely for profit, compulsive consumption and the production of goods that are increasingly superfluous and unnecessary to life.

Therefore, the challenge before us is not to create more State but to create another State, that is truly democratic and includes all its citizens in an effective manner.

  Structures of flourishment.
Feminist movements, in their articulation with other movements nucleated around sexual diversity, gender expressions, race, ethnicity, class, and the generational dimension have successfully developed strategies for visibility, empowerment and proactive impact. These movements have, in the course of the XX century, managed to crack-up social consensus on the legitimacy of discrimination, exclusion and subordination of all sexual expressions that do not fit into the hegemonic norm. In spite of the fact that the political culture continues to promote discrimination and sexist, racist and homophobic violence, the struggles of these social movements have managed to create an impact on traditional common sense and thus to generate spaces for the emergence of new more democratic and inclusive perspectives on equality in difference. It is a process that has resulted in the recognition of and creation of laws on citizenship. Although this process was aided by the UN World Conferences of the nineties, the driving force was the social movements capacity for organization, struggle and generation of alternative proposals. Thus new structures have been created for new strategies of emancipation to flourish [4].

All this has been made possible thanks to the courage of feminist and womens movements, movements for sexual diversity and the support of many people and democratic movements. Without this courage and the capacity for mobilization and generation of alternative policy proposals, we would not have achieved all that we have and neither would we be able to achieve what remains. Therefore, in this context, the capacity for effective confrontation and negotiation with existing powers requires, more than ever before, the politicization and active visibility of feminist agendas as part of a radical democratic agenda. That is to say, experience has shown us that, in order to engage in dialogue and exert influence in this new scenario, it is necessary to ensure the visibility of ones contribution and demand recognition. The area of dispute is not only in relation to hegemonic powers and spaces, but also in terms of recognition and redistribution of power in the democratic sphere, and for the construction of counter-powers and counter-cultural signifiers.

One counter-cultural dimension that uses new signifiers to nurture the counter-power is the articulation of personal change with the processes of social transformation, thus creating alternate subjectivities that are manifested not only at the conscious level but also have an impact on subjective, personal and social imagery. And with respect to this dimension, feminisms contribute deeply personal analytical categories, with high social and political content: the body is one such example of impertinent knowledge[5] that broadens the reference frameworks of transformation. It is this notion that restores the diverse forms of existence of women (and of all human beings) and makes it possible to articulate the dimensions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, identity and expression; age and physical ability, as part of the same system of domination. Therefore a new reconceptualization of the body in its political dimension is imperative, restoring its emancipatory framework to analyze, from thereon, how it is affected by the exclusionary forces of the neoliberal economy, militarism and fundamentalisms.

There is nothing more personal than the body and nothing more political either. The political body is not only tied to the individual being or the private realm, but is also integrally linked to place to the local, social and public space. It is on the body that the State, community, family, religion, market and fundamentalist forces act. It is through the use of a large number of patriarchal controls that these forces and institutions transform the body of women into expressions of power relations. Thus, the bodies of women and sexual diversity are the focus of authoritarian or democratic projects[6]. And on many an occasion the dividing line between democratic and authoritarian becomes blurred when it comes to the body.

It is perhaps because of this that the enormous progress made by feminist, sexual diversity and gender movements, has still not been able to disrupt anti-democratic sexual arrangements, nor has it managed to displace the control that religious and state institutions have over sexuality, reproduction and physical pleasure. Paradoxically, progress was made in indiscriminately situating the body as a territory for commercialization and colonialization, transforming it into a critical space where structural oppressions find root and impact discrimination on grounds of cast, class, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality and sexual diversity.

  1. ® We are using this happy formulation by Alice Miller, in her comments on the first version of the manifesto.

  2. ® Diana Maffía.

  3. ® Hancourt and Escobar.

III. The New Meaning of Rights.
Human rights are a human invention that is in a constant process of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction. They are the inspiration behind numerous ideas and aspirations that are progressively becoming the tools to eliminate or limit arbitrariness and injustice, and also to provide solutions and create conditions for the exercise of these rights.

In the international human rights instruments created in the last century, protection was characterized by general protection based on the notion of formal equality; that is to say, a notion that expressed a fear of difference a difference that Nazism condemned to extermination[7]. We know now that treating all persons in a general and abstract manner does not suffice; as human beings we must also be perceived in terms of our own peculiarities and individuality. To that effect, certain subjects of rights and certain violations of rights require a specific and differentiated response; this, however, is not discrimination. It is more in the nature of seeking a substantial equality, a real equality. As Boaventura de Souza Santos points out: We have the right to be equal whenever difference diminishes us; we have the right to be different whenever equality decharacterizes us. Thus the need for an equality that recognizes differences and a difference that does not create, feed or reproduce inequalities.

The radicality of human rights is supported by the conjunction of personal change with social change. But how must we approach rights in a new democratic paradigm? Rights are not merely something that is given; they are an area of dispute and conflict. We enjoy rights today because many people have fought to broaden their scope to respond to the growing complexications of social life.

Thus, rights cannot be conceived as something static nor can they be won once and for all. Historically, their development has taken place in an inconclusive and exclusionary manner. This was not a linear process but a process marked by fractures, setbacks, restoration of lost content and the broadening and permanent invention of new dimensions. Today these new contents are restoring those aspects of human life and citizenship, which have been historically devalued or absent, silenced, naturalized and prescribed for centuries. The most significant of these rights, in terms of their absence, are economic, social and cultural rights and the rights that have faced most resistance from conservative forces are sexual and reproductive rights.

And this is a political issue. Rights are finally historical and contextualized constructions, produced by the hegemonic practices and discourses of the state and private institutions. However, they are also shaped by the struggle of the people and the changes that occur in social sensibilities and subjectivities. Well before they are recognized and consecrated by the State, the formation and the exercise of rights begin when we question anti-democratic practices and notions that are assumed as natural. As Gina Vargas states, the struggle to have access to and to widen the scope of rights comes up against the real or imaginary barriers that people experience and perceive in their daily lives. These barriers create a perverse sentiment, as people perceive they are more or less deserving of rights in relation to others, which prevents them from feeling and being treated as equals.

Only when people stop thinking of themselves as passive subjects, obedient to God, to the monarch, the State, the husband or the father, will their perception of themselves as individuals, capable of being active citizens of a new political order, begin to take shape.

The awareness of ones right to have rights is capable of extending the limits and illuminating the democratic horizon in society, as it changes its status as frozen in time. It restores them within the current context and shapes the content of future rights, nurturing a continuous symbolic expansion of the space of liberties in a state of permanent socio-cultural and profoundly political construction.

A new paradigm of rights demands the establishment of political subjects, who are willing to constantly transform and broaden its limits, generating new emancipatory meanings, creating spaces, alliances and correlations of forces favouring a new subjectivity. It is only from this perspective that rights can be the founding elements of an emancipatory praxis and of social change. It is a conceptual leap, which destroys the naturality of oppression and discrimination and questions them in the public sphere.

  1. ® Flavia Piovesan.

  Sexual and reproductive rights.
Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. They are universal, because they apply to all human beings right from the moment of their birth; they are interdependent because they are connected with all other human rights. And they are indivisible as they are experienced and exercised in an integral manner, as a whole.

The recognition of their universality, in spite of their evident nature, is however still partial in the national and international normativities, and in society itself. This is a process that has evolved from the demands of social movements and has found important though incipient degrees of recognition in International Conferences of the United Nations, such as the Vienna, Cairo and Beijing Conferences, as it introduces, for example, a new paradigm for debate on the relationship between population, development and rights. At the same time it also places on the table issues of discrimination and the need for recognition of liberties and conditions for their realization.

Sexual rights and reproductive rights clearly demonstrate this conceptual, subjective and symbolic leap, as they have given birth to a subversive proposal, capable of incorporating the multiple dimensions that non-hegemonic groups and social movements have achieved, constructed and broadened in the last few decades, thus enriching the notion of democracy.

When sexuality and democracy are correlated, a new perspective for radicalization emerges in the construction of a society that is more just and egalitarian. It is on the sexual body that the industry of the commercialization of pleasure and the trivialization of life is built with the greatest force. The market force in its neoliberal expression promotes increasingly destructive strategies for the capture and resignification of the meaning of sexual liberty, turning it into a profit ground. In this scenario, the repressive forces of the ecclesiastical hierarchies also focus their capacity for action on controlling social life, as a strategy for maintaining and widening the base of political power.

To situate sexuality and reproduction in the center of democratic debate and aspirations implies fighting the prohibition, which for centuries has controlled its expression and development. This is what Foucault termed the other face of language, which is expressed on the basis of a dynamic logic that proceeds through the following chain of ideas: denying that it exists, not allowing it to be named, saying that it should not be done. However, when its existence imposes itself, there is no other recourse but to speak of the unnameable and punish it. This logic is sharpened when it comes up against other discriminations on grounds of ethnicity, race, age, non-hegemonic sexual identity, culture, religion. Thus the persistence of two expressions that are ill-fated to democracy: sexism and homophobia is manifested not only in assuming that female sexuality is supplementary and subordinate to male sexuality, but also in affirming heterosexual normativity as the only valid and normal way, or in condemning pleasure as indecent, ignoring the flexibility and plasticity of sexuality; it is also politically manifested in the devaluation and disregard of the principle of femininity.

The touchstone for controlling the power of sexuality has been control over the reproductive capacity of women, which was achieved by not separating sexuality from reproduction and denying the autonomy of women to take decisions on issues concerning their own bodies. Marriage and family are institutions that have historically perpetuated the logic of the appropriation of the body, by legitimising violence and rape. And although these are institutions that are increasingly suffering fractures within, there continues to be a tremendous resistance to recognizing different types of family or other forms of non-heterosexual sexuality, as well as the stereotypes and asymmetries in the power relations between sexes. Both institutions consecrate the naturality of a dichotomic perspective of the sexes and sexuality.

But sexuality is also a transgressor par excellence and, in spite of cultural prohibitions, it is an area of permanent quest and democratic innovation.

Where do we situate prostitution in this process of control and transgression? This is one of the dimensions that is in conflict within feminist movements. It is a conflict between abolitionist movements, who consider the exercise of prostitution as an expression of gender violence and symbolic of the status of women, while anti-abolitionists maintain that if it exercised is by choice, then it must be recognized and must be accorded labour rights. Both positions though converge in their rejection of the criminal elements associated with prostitution: Proxenetism, trafficking of women, the mafia, and child prostitution. Both positions look to respond to a diminished, denigrated, stigmatized reality that perpetuates a dichotomic perspective of women as sexual beings. In this polemic, the opinions of women in prostitution who have now begun to talk of their reality portray a complex and contradictory experience, filled with nuances, of the conditions and circumstances in which they exercise this activity. Undoubtedly there are no easy answers. However, both these perspectives serve to warn us of the risks faced not only by prostitutes, but through them, by all women whose sexual behaviour is not in keeping with the norms established by the double standards of society.

  The cultural dimension , diversity and inequality.
The changes to which we aspire are both material and symbolic in nature. From this point of view, culture is an excellent field of change because it is the mainstay for changes in the long term subjective and symbolic horizons of societies. It is in the cultural dimension where the right to have rights takes root, on the basis of the differences and particularities of human beings.

On the one hand sexuality is an inalienable source of rights that nurtures counter-hegemonic views in the face of western hegemonism regarding the primacy of one sex over the other or the consecration of one type of sexual diversity. It is however, on the other hand, an area of constant violation of rights, by those who universalize a particular cultural viewpoint as the only valid one, thus giving rise to varied forms of fundamentalisms, which in many cases, use the body as the fundamental focus of attack and violation of rights. Infibulations, the stoning to death of widows and surgeries for the normalization of intersex persons are some of the practices of violence and violation of rights that are justified in the name of culture and tradition.

Historically, Western culture appears as the yardstick against which the rest of the world as a whole is measured. This has impeded the restoration of a more plural, democratic and complex vision of the significance of the co-existence of pluriethnic and multicultural nations in our region -a co-existence that is owing to its historical roots, as well as to the constant mixing of cultures and the influence of other cultures. But it is not enough to merely acknowledge this multiculturalism, as this would then be construed as a mere fact that does not entail any commitment on our part to a dialogue between cultures. What is important is for us to be able to cut across the cultural boundaries that have been constructed to separate us[8]. This is only possible if there are horizontal and democratic relations. To speak of interculturality is to speak of social systems, power relations and cosmovisions, but it also implies speaking about ourselves and in this manner restoring the individual, interpersonal and subjective dimension that makes intercultural- ity a construction and a social relation between different peers[9].

  1. ® Nelson Manrique.

  2. ® Juan Ansión.

  Individuality versus individualism?.
In this process, heightened individualism, fragmentation and particularization of struggle, also have ambivalent impacts. Because if there has been a political uprooting owing to the weakening of collective references and the sense of solidarity, resulting in individuals withdrawing into themselves and becoming wholly responsible for their own future there have been, at the same time, a series of historical mobilizations, with new forms of articulation through networks and in cyberspace, that have alerted the world on their questioning of this order of domination. Thus there is a certain tension between a reality that excludes and an awareness of the right to inclusion and the recognition that seeks possibilities for more horizontal and democratic relations. This process of individuation of the non-hegemonic dimension has faced constant resistance by cultural traditions and moral visions, which place the weight of citizenship on collective rights, thus distorting its historical sense and forgetting the fact that when the collective dimension is not founded on the appropriation of rights at a personal level and on the modification of subjective citizenships towards the awareness of being deserving of rights, it can be highly authoritarian. If diversities are not expressed on the basis of their individualities, there is a risk of them disappearing into the horizon of societies.

IV. Essential Principles of Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
We aspire to construct a radical democracy that demands the discontinuation of the natural order of domination and establishes the social recognition of all those people who are denied their rights. According to this vision, economy must be subordinate to politics, the market to human rights; and democracy must be conceived not only as a political system but as a form of organization of social life, in the public and private sphere and at the local and global level.

  Universality-diversity- inequality.
An abstract universality has situated inequality as being intrinsic to the development of rights, given a particular, privileged and hegemonic subject male, white, western in comparison to whom, those who are different appear lacking and unequal. Therefore it is necessary to restore equality, not as an abstract proposal that has never been realized, but as a proposal for justice and fundamental ethical measure to relate as peers in society, while displaying and acknowledging our differences. Equality is the result of a process of emancipation that goes beyond barriers that exclude and delegitimize and of a process that is in permanent conflict with the existing conditions of inequality.

  Poverty is incompatible with human rights.
Economic, social and cultural rights must be restored as an inalienable expression of citizenship and human rights, given the inequity in the redistribution of wealth. The recognition of persons who have been denied their rights requires an ethical and conceptual leap, which questions the specific and exclusionary practices that contribute to the absence of conditions favourable to the construction of relations of equality and liberty.

For the market to be subordinate to human rights, it is necessary to reconceptualize the specific rights in situations that are hierarchically above the principle of equality. Therefore private property which is a permanent basis for construction of inequalities, and the mainstay and complement of market forces must be relativized on the basis of the principle of equality.

  Doing away with the liberal perspective of liberty.
In the liberal paradigm, the much valued liberty appears as a desire that is impossible to achieve. It is a liberty that is proclaimed as individual and not related to or conditioned by the liberty of others. Besides, it also maintains the individuality and distinctive nature that have given rise to modern citizenship: not only the liberty to buy and sell, but liberties and recognition accorded to one specific category of person male, generally white, heterosexual, with economic resources and access to education who has enjoyed monopoly of participation in political and life decisions. In the words of Macphersson, liberty and individuality were defined in terms of possession and competence, impregnating all dimensions of human life with this possessive individualism. Sexuality is one of these fields where violence, commercialization and possessiveness leave little room for the construction of the practices of liberty. Thus, it is important to review complaisant perspectives around certain sexual practices. For example, free consent as an act of freedom cannot be given between unequal persons; it is only free when it is given between two people who recognize themselves as equals.

Sexual liberty is an aspiration, a quest and the construction of social, political and economic conditions that broaden the framework for its exercise and choice from among an array of options/orientations. It is a field for autonomous and relational emancipation, modifying the conditions of inequality between persons and altering preconceived ideas on what a relationship of love should be.

We would like to restore liberty as a process and as a subjective dimension that promotes the creation and widening of the conditions for autonomous choice and decision making. And re-establish harm as the ethical limit of individual liberty and collective rights, thus acknowledging and legitimising our status as subjects capable of deciding on our own lives and circumstances.

  The recovery of the body as a political space.
The body is not only the material and subjective sphere of domination and suffering but also the mainstay of the practices of liberty and democracy. Restoring the political dimensions of the body requires confrontation with all philosophical, metaphysical, religious or scientific perspectives that negate its existence. It is also important for it be acknowledged as a space which I inhabit, and as a subject that is entitled to rights that can be exercised only in a secular State and in a secular culture that ensures economic justice, gender justice and sexual justice.

Therefore the body states Betania Ávila has become a space endowed with citizenship through a series of available social experiences that produce multiple articulations. Each of these experiences of exclusion and lack of recognition has generated movements, reflections and alternative proposals that presage a horizon of change in many spaces and dimensions[10]. A space that undoubtedly regulates the body is the negation of the sexual rights and reproductive rights of persons, in opposition to which there is a counter-cultural dimension that reaffirms the right to make decisions relating to ones own body, the right to pleasure, to a diverse sexuality that is different from heterosexual sexuality and is multiple in nature. This has fomented powerful feminist movements and movements for sexual and gender diversity the world over, around issues such as the right to freedom and recognition, besides also the struggle for redistribution of power and resources. Another dimension is marked by disease, the most dramatic expression of which is the Aids epidemic, both in terms of its magnitude as well as the prejudices and ignorance that have characterized state and social responses to it, and owing to the fact that it has been the target of resistance and interference by the Church. This situation has given rise to a paradigmatic movement in its struggle against conservative morals, and against the drug patent monopoly of transnationals.

But the agenda of the political body goes beyond confronting the regulation of the body, realized through terror and militarization. This is a phenomenon that has manifested itself, with unimaginable harshness, in armed conflicts and wars, wherein the body of women and of all those subjects who are vulnerable, owing to their gender identity and gender expression as transvestites, transsexuals and intersex persons is viewed and considered as spoils of war. Feminist struggles have achieved the classification of such violations as crimes against humanity in international normativity. In this perspective, the devaluation of the body owing to the colour of the skin encourages social, cultural, economic and emotional exclusions; and in the case of women it has a special impact on their sexed body, as expressed by the many movements of black and indigenous women in the region.

The impact of symbolic cultural normativity on the conception of what a womans body should be and what sexuality considered as normal by the heteronormative system should be, is evident. This affects lesbians, gays, trans, intersex and heterosexuals who do not accept the norm of sexual normalcy. This marginalization of difference also finds expression against the bodies of non-hegemonic sexual diversities, through control of their access to body modification technologies, state policies on morphological homogenization and steriliza- tion, mutilations performed on intersex children. Likewise the ideal of the body that has been invented by capitalist consumerism and the patriarchy, imposes certain demands, whose impact is expressed in the form of an ethical paradox: where manifestations of bulimia and anorexia coexist with the unsatisfied hunger of others.

And it is also increasingly expressed in the effects of the hegemonic economic model, with its exclusion, inequality and hunger, which is damaging capacities generally in an irreversible manner in the bodies of the new generations, resulting in movements for global justice and international solidarity against neoliberal hegemonism.

If the body is the measure of experiences and social and cultural relations, and is a part of the daily lives of people, in its multiple expressions, it must be in a part of the agenda of societies and a democracy that extends to the global scenario: at the level of country, the local level, at home and in bed. The body thus conceived becomes an instrument and the end of a subversive and transversal advocacy.

  1. ® Gina Vargas.

  Happiness and the quest for new egalitarian learning.
The majority of the references that we have that help us think, construct, imagine and desire our happiness, are in some way contaminated by asymmetries associated with gender, race and class conditionings and we find the discourse on happiness is increasingly defined by the market. A market whose current form breeds inequality and idyllic visions of a world that does not exist, that is organized on the basis of patriarchal and elitist ideals and references that are perceived as applicable to all people in their quest for happiness. This lack of correspondence between the existing model and reality creates insecurity and suffering.

Among the innumerable expressions of pleasure that we can bring back into our personal life and in our social ties, sexual pleasure is stigmatized the most. It is subject to prohibitions, especially in the case of women, youth and sexual diversities. The female body is seen as a male continent and is the victim of myths and preconceived notions.

Pleasure, monopolized by a particular perception of male sexuality, bears the weight of exclusion, inequalities and obscurantism. It is legitimised as an exclusively individual quest, thus consecrating yet another model: the phallic heterosexual as the sole acceptable and pleasant form, excluding all those persons whose body does not fit into the norm: homosexuals, transsexuals, intersex persons, old, fat and disabled people legitimising their commercialization and commodification within the framework of a normative and commercial logic.

Speaking of sexual pleasure is difficult, but doing so from a democratic perspective is more so. Thanks to a repressive education, we have become a society that is scared to speak of the issue in a direct way and we only do it in private or fall back on using scientific language during medical consultations, with terms such as anorgasmia, frigidity, premature ejaculation etc. Or we do so in talk shows in which sex is treated in a condescending manner.

Historically, the notion of bodily pleasure was appropriated by various puritan ideologies and hegemonic religions. However our way of loving is political. Both the ideas of pure love as well as that of prohibited love are inventions of a misogynist and homophobic official culture.

The quest for pleasure is an expression based on an individual and relational autonomy, which legitimises self-perception as persons with a right to pleasure, both in terms of erotic, amorous sexual play as well as in other spheres of life, such as maternity, which can be an invaluable source of pleasure when it is freely sought.

What are the steps to facilitate restoration of the right to pleasure in a complex and ambivalent scenario, where not only individual quest but the conditions that widen the references of this quest come together? These include the existence of public policies on sexuality, expressed in the form of education, the affirmation of a secular State and a secular culture. At the same time, it is also necessary to affirm the right to not have the State regulate this sphere or define the limits or possibilities of pleasure. We reject the commodified form of pleasure in the hegemonic model but neither do we want to define it from a plural counter-hegemonic perspective. Pleasure cannot be regulated as it cannot be defined. It is diverse, multiple, genital but at the same time it can also be intensely physical, sensorial and emotional. Pleasure can- not be achieved through prescription, it is necessary to create conditions that allow freedom of imagination, the restoration of the recreational aspect of pleasure and the development of a field of ethics on issues of equality and liberty, that at the same time doesnt go against this very freedom and fantasy that pleasure inhabits.

  Secularity of states.
We consider that the separation between Church and State is the only acceptable form of government in democratic societies. Therefore States must adopt a neutral position vis-à-vis various dogmas of faith. Preserving the secular nature of the state means achieving a complete, clear and absolute separation between the scope of the Church, which corresponds exclusively to its faithful, and that of the State, which corresponds to public and citizen interest.

We would like to warn against the presence of fundamentalist tendencies in some of the streams of thought in the Churches of our region. A classic feature of fundamentalism is extreme submission to dogma, that attempt to prevail over reason, scientific progress and the laws of the State governing the human rights of citizens.

We believe that full affirmation and defence of rights in the fields of sexuality and reproduction can only progress in a democratic manner in secular states and secular cultures, with economic, gender and sexual justice.

IV. Core Issues.
Owing to the complexities and the challenges that sexuality and reproduction pose from the rights perspective, we have chosen some of the issues that according to us are most significant, given the present scenario. There is already a rich debate underway around some of these issues. In the case of others, our knowledge is limited, and a wide and in-depth discussion on these issues is in order. For yet others we still do not have answers or similar understandings. Thus all of these issues open up a varied range of possibilities for reflection and exchange.

  Relation between maternity- paternity and social conditions for reproduction: conception, contraception and abortion.
Control over the reproductive capacity of women has been the historical mechanism for their subjugation in the social, economic, political and sexual spheres. The restoring of the right to make autonomous decisions is an emancipatory conquest, that requires affirmation of the autonomy of women as sexual beings and citizens, opposing the sexual division of labour that accompanied the appropriation of their reproductive capacity, creating conditions for free choice and visibilizing its social value and the dimension of collective co-responsibility. It likewise requires the recognition of these capacities in public policies aimed at widening the conditions for choice of people, freeing social time for reproduction and also registering the reproductive rights of men and their shared responsibility.

Reproduction is a right and a pleasure when it is freely decided. It is a source of pain, stigma and intolerance when this liberty is constrained by religious, moral influences and economic limitations.

Reproductive rights have been trapped in the framework of reproductive health that endorses situations of power, making the exercise of rights difficult and weakening the possibilities for choice. Reproduction is seen as the role par excellence of women in a hegemonic heterosexual framework. This has serious limitations, as it does not recognize the reproductive rights of all persons and the right to affirmation of sexual diversity and the quest for pleasure.

What are the conditions that ensure that reproduction is a pleasurable experience? Undoubtedly, it is the recognition of the right to decide freely on reproduction through informed access to the different contraceptive methods and different reproductive options that exist today; having laws that guarantee reproductive rights (and not merely reproductive health); access to appropriate medical attention, without this being dependent on social origin or class nor on age; increasing paid time off for women after childbirth, creating possibilities for men to assume joint responsibility; extending reproductive rights to lesbians. All this combined with the need to radically widen/modify the reproductive health focus, overcoming the legal conditioning that excludes decision making on voluntary interruption of pregnancy and making abortion a safe recourse for all those women who decide not to go ahead with their pregnancies. It is only in these conditions that the right to consent, founded on information and free choice, can become a democratic right to be enjoyed among peers.

  Non - acceptance of the commercialization of conditions for production of life.
Our generation has been witness to changes that till some time ago were inconceivable: new reproductive technologies, in vitro maternity, sperm banks and the discovery of effective medication for pandemics such as Aids. There are new stimulants for good sexual functioning; we now have DNA paternity testing that among many other admirable uses open up an infinite array of possibilities for the entire human race.

However, although these developments can be highly liberating, they can also be dangerous and de-humanizing in societies marked by power relations in the private and public sphere, where scientific and technological advances remain under control and are the property of multinationals and are at the mercy of market interests, the monopoly of the medical and scientific class, and their profit. The liberating aspect is thus clouded by the profit-seeking and commercial dimension that dehumanizes it.

The problem thus is not only of access to new technologies, but also the ethical issue of how they are used, because scientific and technological progress gives rise to ambivalent movements. For example, DNA testing eliminates the arbitrariness of anonymous paternity while sperm banks consecrate it. The invention of drugs that enhance sexuality have opened new avenues for pleasure and reproduction, but at the same time they establish a form of hegemonic sexuality. Aesthetic surgeries are liberating as they recompose physical aspects of the body that are self-perceived or real which a person prefers not to have. But parallely they foster a stereotype image or a concept of beauty that is commercially constructed and thus do not address the issues of devaluation/ self- devaluation that come with age.

  Democratization of the conditions for scientific and technological production in the field of sexuality and reproduction.
Widening rights in the field of sexuality and reproduction requires a set of other democratic practices. This means creating spaces to recognize their complexities and constructing an individual and collective ethical perspective. The right to participate in decision making on priorities and the definition of public policies that are conceived as tools to guarantee non-discrimination of all persons, in relation to scientific and technological progress. This implies the democratization of the definitions on scientific and technological development in the field of sexuality and reproduction, by asking for example: Who decides on the guidelines for the use of new reproductive technologies? Who continues to legitimize the monopoly on patents for essential drugs? Who defends the right of people to access and use of their natural resources without having to witness the terrible expropriation of their resources, plants and cultural heritage?

Therefore, celebrating scientific and technological progress brings with it the demand for citizen control, transparency and accountability, to ensure that the use of science and technology is guided by the principle of benefit for all, by means of public policies that are based on a solid democratic perspective. And it also implies the expansion of these rights outside the scope of the hegemonic norm, accepting that reproductive technologies broaden the universe of citizen rights. For example, the right of lesbians to decide on reproduction, guaranteeing appropriate medical attention by public health services for the fulfilment of this right.

There is another dimension to the body that must also be considered. The background is the new cyber cultural information and communication technologies that, on the one hand, allow us to allude to mechanized or constructed bodies and on the other hand, to bodies that are characterized as asexual, like cyborgs[11] or plurisexual beings for example, with the recognition of the right to diversity. Constructed bodies which till that point of time, meant cultural and historical trajectories, whose synthesis was formulated in aesthetic dimensions fat or thin, short or tall, beautiful or ugly, white, black or mestizo, male or female are now being challenged by the use of new biotechnologies with the stereotypes taken as a whole. Thus these allow choices and possibilities that are closer to contemporary subjectivities, generating new political and social demands. This is a process that has shifted from reconstruction to new singular and plural constructions.

  1. ® Harraway.

  Recognition and celebration of the diversity of existing gender expressions.
It is necessary to recognize and celebrate the diversity of gender expressions that exist in our world - male, female, androgynous, trans, etc. and affirm the right of each person to his own gender expression, whatever this may be and whatever his/her personal identity may be an identity recognized by the law - his/her body and/or his/her sexuality. It is only by doing so that we will succeeding in destroying the heteronormative logic, which in admitting only two appropriate gender manifestations, stigmatizes, excludes and punishes other non-hegemonic forms of femininity and masculinity (we are talking of masculine women or feminine males, transvestites, trans men or women, intersex females or intersex males, and all those people who define themselves as trans persons, inter-sex persons, androgynous persons etc.).

No one must be subjected therefore, to a scrutiny of his/her gender expression in terms of suitability, concordance, fluidity or reproduction of stereotypes by States and Churches, or by academies and other social institutions, or by social and political movements. Such classifications only serve to reinforce gender binary, as they prescribe correct and incorrect forms of expression. The gender expression of persons and their contingent relationship with the body, identity and sexual practices can, in no way, diminish the recognition of their full subjectivity even if this expression and the above mentioned relations contradict or seem to contradict theoretical political postulates. Therefore, it is necessary to consider different gender expressions male, female, transvestite, androgynous, trans, intersex, etc. as options that are culturally available to all persons, without any prerogatives of propriety or originality, being at the same time open to a process of constant cultural resignification.

  Construction of an emancipatory code of public ethics that would substitute the existing public moral.
We require an emancipatory code of public ethics that would substitute the existing public moral. This moral, shaped by the perspectives of highly repressive religious doctrines, tends to suffocate practices of liberty, while maintaining the power to shape a protected order for the secular world.

Feminist ethics are constructed on the basis of this statement. Its task is that of achieving a morality focussed on ones own awareness of personal interests in relation to and interaction with social interests. It is a code of ethics that is constructed on the basis of experience, raising questions that have not been raised yet, discovering lacunae and reconstructing the given, changing the accent, pointing out fissures and opening up new possibilities for moral and value based expressions. It also causes dislocations in the ways of thinking and in the predominant paradigms of knowledge. All this creates new elements to democratically conceive inter-subjective and intra-subjective ethics in human relations and in the relations of an individual with society. Feminist ethics are constituted by specific subjects, with experience in the process of living for themselves. Thus aided by personal and collective support they oblige the construction of relationships between peers in the framework of the mutual recognition of rights, equality and difference[12].

An emancipatory code of public ethics from this perspective is backed by human rights and is constructed on the basis of a plurality of visions. It restores the concept of democratic citizenship, where individual viewpoints are not imposed as the sole perspective.

Lima, October 2006.

  1. ® Lourdes Bandeira.

Otros textos relacionados:
Versión abreviada Manifiesto que orienta la Campaña por una Convención Interamericana de los Derechos Sexuales y los Derechos Reproductivos.
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