Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents in Africa: The role of the courts
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Across the world, adolescents encounter various challenges that may implicate the enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The situation of adolescents in Africa is aggravated by high poverty levels and a high disease burden in the region. Some of the challenges facing adolescents in Africa include high incidence of child marriage, unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and maternal mortality. It is estimated that 1 in 3 girls is married before attaining 18 (UNFPA, Marrying too young: end child marriage. UN Population Fund, 2012), while an estimated 16 million adolescent girls aged 15–19 (most of them in poor regions, including Africa) give birth yearly. Also, about 31% of young women aged 20–24 in least developed countries gave birth before age 18 between 2000 and 2009 (UNICEF et al., Violence against Children in Tanzania: Findings from a National Survey 2009. UN Children’s Fund, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, 2011). An in-depth study of four sub-Saharan African countries found that 60% or more of adolescent men and women did not know how to prevent pregnancy and one-third or more did not know of a source for contraceptives (Guttmacher Institute and IPPF, Facts on the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent women in the developing world. Allan Guttmacher Institute and International Planned Parenthood Federation, 2010). The majority of about 300,000 women and girls that die annually (800 deaths per day) due to complications arising from childbirth are from Africa (UNFPA 2011).