Bodily autonomy and integrity


Bod­ily integrity and auton­omy refers to the human right that every­one should enjoy to take self-deter­mined deci­sions over their own body. Stated oth­er­wise, bod­ily integrity and auton­omy is the human right that all indi­vid­u­als have to deter­mine their own fate with­out undue polic­ing or patron­iz­ing con­trol over their own bod­ies. While bod­ily integrity and self-deter­mi­na­tion is itself a human right, it is also cen­tral to the enjoy­ment of other human rights prin­ci­ples such as gen­der equal­ity and human dig­nity. How­ever, bod­ily integrity and auton­omy is often pre­vented by legal, social, reli­gious, and insti­tu­tional norms that pre­vent per­sonal deci­sions over some­one's own body. Exam­ples of these norms include “marry your rapist” laws that allow per­pe­tra­tors to escape pun­ish­ment if they marry their vic­tims, deny­ing auton­omy expe­ri­enced by sur­vivors of rape. Some of these legal, social, reli­gious, and insti­tu­tional norms directly or indi­rectly threaten phys­i­cal and men­tal health, or even life. These legal, social, reli­gious, and insti­tu­tional norms can sig­nif­i­cantly restrict health out­comes in fields such as sex­ual and repro­duc­tive rights.

Prece­dents reflected in the Lan­guage Com­pendium have rec­og­nized the res­o­lu­tion between bod­ily integrity and auton­omy, and the right to health. They have rec­og­nized, for instance, that sex­ual and repro­duc­tive free­dom, and the right to be free from inter­fer­ence, such as the right to be free from tor­ture, non-con­sen­sual med­ical treat­ment and exper­i­men­ta­tion, are intrin­si­cally related to the human right to health. Prece­dents have also rec­og­nized that fail­ure to uphold bod­ily auton­omy results in pro­found losses for indi­vid­ual women and girls.


2022 Resolution on Violence Against Women Migrant Workers

2021 Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026

2021 CSW Report on women and HIV/AIDS

2021 Political declaration on HIV and AIDS

2019 Political declaration of the HLM on UHC

2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS

2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS

Expert precedents

2022 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

2022 Report of the Independent Expert on SOGI: Practices of Exclusion

2022 Report of the Independent Expert on SOGI: Law of Inclusion

2016 General Comment No.22 on the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Health

1999 General Recommendation No.24 on women and health


2021 State of World Population