Participating and contributing to the fourth Bergen Exchanges, in Bergen, Norway, staff and graduates of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, further strengthened the Centre’s focus on and international collaboration in respect of sexual and reproductive rights (SRR).
Four Centre graduates (two currently registered doctoral students), together with two staff members, Prof Frans Viljoen (Director, Centre for Human Rights) and Ms Thuto Hlalele (Administrative Coordinator, LLM/MPhil Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa programme), are participating in the week-long public discourse at the Bergen Exchanges. The discourse, which is hosted by the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen from 19 to 25 August 2017, is centered towards examining lawfare. The term ‘lawfare’ denotes the strategic uses of rights and law and how legal institutions function as arenas for political contestation.
The Bergen Exchanges, which is an annual platform for scholars, practitioners and researchers, debate the use of courts and legislatures, and the role of civil society, to fight for social transformation. Topics such as the politicisation of gender and sexuality in the media, contemporary human rights challenges in the USA, child marriage laws in Africa and the need for an international treaty on violence against woman, are some of the issues that were deliberated during this year’s exchanges.
More specifically, this year’s Bergen Exchanges saw the Centre’s alumni and staff involved in research and presentations on the political determinants of sexual and reproductive health rights and in particular, interrogating the determinants that push or prevent the advancement of abortion and sexual minority rights in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa.
Dr Nicholas Orago (HRDA class of 2010) is the lead researcher for Kenya in the Political Determinants of Sexual and Reproductive Health, working in the area of politicisation and criminalisation of same-sex liaisons and its impact on access to the right to health in Kenya, made presentations on related topics.
Saoyo Tabitha Griffith (HRDA class of 2012) is representing the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network. Together with the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, KELIN is involved in the project on political determinants of sexual and reproductive rights, specifically working on the criminalization, health impacts and game changers on access to abortion in Kenya. She made a presentation on abortion in Kenya.
Satang Nabaneh (HRDA class of 2012) is a doctoral student recruited for the “Political determinants on sexual and reproductive health” (GLOBVAC project) and based at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, as one of the leading academic institutions on SRHR in Africa. As part of the project workshop, Satang presented her proposed PhD research focusing on abortion. Satang is also participating in the PhD course on the “Effects of Lawfare: Courts and law as battlegrounds for social change”. As part of activities of the Bergen Exchanges, Satang is also participating in roundtable on “Child marriage laws in Africa” looking at how law reform best be brought and lead to change of child marriage practices.
Adrian Jjuuko (HRDA class of 2013) is involved in both the GLOBVAC and the lawfare projects. He is part of the team writing on Uganda under the GLOBVAC project and he is also contributing a book chapter together with Dr. Stella Nyanzi under the lawfare project. He authored the background document on SRHR lawfare in Uganda. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at the Centre for Human Rights.
In collaboration with the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen, the Centre for Human Rights is in the process of compiling research papers which were presented at a roundtable meeting which was hosted at the Centre into a book on homosexuality and lawfare in Africa, which will be published towards the end of 2017.