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Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights


In January of 2004, Argentina approved a new immigration law that guaranteed the protection of human rights for all immigrants in the country regardless of their legal status with the State. Among the rights explicitly guaranteed by this law were the right to migrate, the right to education and the right to health care. While this law represents a significant advance by the Argentine government in protecting the human rights of immigrants, oppressive mechanisms still remain in everyday practices that inhibit actual access to their rights.

Considering the changes in the law and the breach between the laws and everyday practices, the role that NGO’s play in assisting immigrants has had to change as well. This project examines a specific educational initiative of an NGO in Argentina, CAREF, targeted for members of the health care work force in an effort to improve access to sexual and reproductive rights for Bolivian woman. Through observations of the course and interviews with some of the students, an analysis was made of some of the main challenges for immigrants to get access to health care as well as the effectiveness of an educational course offered from an NGO in combating the barriers that limit access for immigrants.

Through this brief study, it became apparent that the use of social mechanisms that maintain social control such as racism, cultural fundamentalism, and the restriction of citizenship enforced among health care staff play an important role in hindering immigrant’s access to their full right to health care. It also became evident that education about the laws and rights of immigrants as well as cultural differences in health care practices can be important tools in combating these mechanisms. Even though there are challenges, such as the normalization of oppressive routines in the administration of the hospital, that require more drastic interventions by the State or hospital directors, educational initiatives of NGO’s can play a key role in assisting immigrants. The new challenge for NGO’s, then, has become reaching the people that are most involved in hindering immigrant’s access so as to be most effective with their educational initiatives, a challenge that is difficult but not impossible.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Health Services Administration | Immigration Law | Law and Gender | Maternal and Child Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health Education and Promotion | Sexuality and the Law | Women's Studies


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