Document Type


Publication Date



The objective of this paper is to lay out some of the debates yet to be resolved surrounding the sexual rights of individuals during childhood and adolescence. This category of rights is one of the domains in which the shortcomings of current regulations designed to protect certain rights of minors and also the absence of a theoretical foundation for human rights for those phases of life are clearly manifested. The lack of a deep discussion on the rights of boys and girls becomes evident when the attempt is made to define sexual and reproductive rights, since while entitlement is sought in some respects – especially for certain reproductive rights for adolescents such as access to contraception – in other respects a continuing effort is made to justify limiting access for the same age group to related rights, the right to contract marriage being one example.[1]

[1] In some documents, certain reproductive rights for adolescents are recognized while simultaneously governments are advised to take measures to prevent early marriages and the right to determine a child’s sexual education is also left to the parents, without any explanation of how these discrepancies which can conflict are justified or reconciled. The result is the fundamental characteristic of the legal framework for children’s rights: discretionality.


Paper delivered at SELA 2009, Law and Sexuality, in Asunción, Paraguay, as part of the panel on “Child Sexuality.”