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The State of the World Population (SWOP) is a report analyses developments and trends in world population and demographics. The report entitled: My Body is My Own” shows that many women and girls are denied the right to decide whether to use contraception or seek health care, among many other issues cited in the report.

Notably, this is the first time, a United Nations report focuses on bodily autonomy: the power and agency to make choices about your body, without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you. Through this ground breaking report, UNFPA is measuring both women’s power to make their own decisions about their bodies and the extent to which countries’ laws support or interfere with a woman’s right to make these decisions. The data show a strong link between decision-making power and higher levels of education.

The report shows that in 57 countries where data is available:

  • Only 55 per cent of women are fully empowered to make choices over health care, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex
  • Only 71 per cent of countries guarantee access to overall maternity care
  • Only 75 per cent of countries legally ensure full, equal access to contraception
  • Only about 80 per cent of countries have laws supporting sexual health and well-being
  • Only about 56 per cent of countries have laws and policies supporting comprehensive sexuality education

The report also documents many other ways that the bodily autonomy of women and girls is compromised, revealing that at least 20 countries or territories have “marry-your-rapist” laws, where a man can escape criminal prosecution if he marries the woman or girl he has raped. At least 43 countries have no legislation addressing the issue of marital rape (rape by a spouse) while more than 30 countries restrict women’s right to move around outside the home.