The Government of Belize should issue an explicit recognition of “sexual rights” as part of human rights be officially legislated in Belizean law. This should include protection from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sexual characteristics, sexual harassment, and the right to sexual and reproductive health services, information and education. National authorities should issue recommendations in defense of sexual and reproductive rights, building on the 2018 International Women’s Day Statement, which acknowledged working on issues such as sexual harassment, violence against women, and discrimination against women. The Department of Human Services should develop of a reporting mechanism, apart from the Ombudsman, which is transparent, efficient, and comprehensive, for citizens who have had their sexual and reproductive rights violated by public servants.
The Ministry of Justice should reform the “right to conscientious objection in public services” clause in the Constitution of Belize to not include the possibility to object to medical procedures.
The Ministry of Education should amend the Education Act to include the right to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and the right to access age-appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health. The Ministry of Education should develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, to ensure that the CSE curriculums are being followed in all schools. We also recommend the development and implementation of a capacity training for educators on how to discuss sexual and reproductive health with their students, including values clarification, particularly at the primary level.
The Ministry of Health should develop a specific SRH program to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services, information, and contraceptive methods for all. This program must include a strategy to reach young people and underserved and vulnerable populations. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of trade should coordinate to monitor the procurement of contraceptive supplies, including monitoring and reporting stock-outs, and ensuring adequate stock for emergency situations, such as humanitarian crises. The Ministry of Health should develop training requirements for SRH service providers on providing stigma-free services to people of all gender expressions, sexualities, ages, and especially vulnerable populations. The training should include definitions on quality of care, and values clarification.
The Ministry of Health should update the Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy of 2002 to include an SRH policy directed to young people and their specific SRHR needs. The set of policies and programs concerning young people’s sexual and reproductive health should incorporate: the recognition of young people’s right to be included in the decision-making of SRH policies and programs, the recognition of the specific sexual health and/or reproductive health needs of LGBTI youth, and the recognition of the specific sexual health and/or reproductive health needs of young people living with disabilities. The Ministry of Health must develop a national document that establishes priorities and strategies to ensure access to youth-friendly SRH services, including specific guidelines/protocols, and policies that ensure SRH services for young people. These priorities and strategies should address accessibility, acceptability, quality, and the specific needs of adolescents within the population of young people.
A woman’s right to safe abortion due to rape or incest should be added to the framework for legal abortion The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health should remove the right to conscientious objection in relation to abortion from the Criminal Code and from any medical guidelines, establishing that conscientious objection infringes upon a patient’s right to legal medical treatment and allows service providers to impose their personal beliefs on patients. The Ministry of Health should issue protocols, guidelines, or standards on ensuring access to legal abortion, including establishing referral networks, and information on providing safe abortion services to young people.
The significant barriers to accessing abortion and post-abortion care must be removed to eliminate preventable causes of maternal morbidity and mortality. The Ministry of Health should establish a specific program aimed at reducing maternal mortality, which builds on the success of the 2014 Revision of the Quality Improvement of Maternal and Neonatal Care Policy. This program should have a specific budget for maternal mortality reduction.
The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice should determine a policy that respects and ensures women’s rights regarding their choice of a specific type of birth delivery and postpartum care, including the right to delivery with the nurse or midwife of their choice. The Ministry of Health should develop a training program for medical personal with guidelines on providing humane delivery, childbirth, and postpartum care. To ensure quality of care, the Ministry of Health should implement a feedback mechanism for people who have received care during pregnancy or childbirth to rate the medical services they were provided with.
The Ministry of Health should incorporate a gender perspective in the National Policy on HIV/AIDS, which recognizes the ways people of different genders experience HIV/AIDS, including transmission, treatment, and living with HIV/AIDS. It is recommended that the Ministry of Health develop a rapid HIV testing program, and integrate HIV testing into the provision of contraceptive services to broaden the number of people being offered tests for HIV, and to reduce the stigma around seeking HIV testing. The Ministry of Health should implement a feedback mechanism whereby people who have received services related to HIV/AIDS can report on the quality of services they received/
Health personnel are required to screen all pregnant women for gender-based violence, and there are mechanisms to assist and protect the woman, including reporting the cases. These mechanisms do not mention sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, and sexual characteristics, or include screening for women who are not pregnant. The Ministry of Health should establish a legal mechanism for services providers to screen and refer cases of gender-based violence during the provision of any sexual and reproductive health services, including for violence due to sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, and sexual characteristics. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of justice should coordinate mechanisms on reporting, treating, and providing services to victims of sexual and gender-based violence, creating a single pathway of care to prevent exhaustion and re-victimization of victims of violence. This should include mandatory safeguarding of evidence when violence has been detected, and reporting and sampling of evidence in the health system that will be valid for the judicial system should the victim want to file a complaint.
In line with the Freedom of Information Act, a formal legal mechanism to request information in electronic form should be built. In the Ministry of Health budget, specific resources should be allocated to SRH services for young people, sexuality education, SRH outreach campaigns, SRH staff, SRH staff training, and the purchase of contraceptive methods.