ACTION BY CAMPAIGN MEMBERS ************************ 9 May 2016
"We care because we know that Belén has not had an adequate defence and from the moment she stepped into the hospital, was in fact condemned by her own doctor, a doctor who violated his duty to protect patient confidentiality by reporting her."
Tags: Argentina, miscarriage, trials and imprisonment
ASIA SAFE ABORTION PARTNERSHIP
Call for Applications : The 5th ASAP Youth Advocacy Institute for Safe Abortion Rights
ASAP invites applications from young persons living and working in Asia to join the 5th Advocacy Institute for Safe Abortion Rights in Vietnam, 22–25th August 2016.
There is a growing need for young champions to take on the role of promoting, protecting and expanding the sexual and reproductive rights of people in Asia, especially among the youth. The most challenging of these issues is the right to access safe abortion services. Young people need to be able to challenge conservative interpretations that allow cultural practices to be used to restrict the rights of young people, especially young girls and women.
Understanding the gender and human rights dimensions of this struggle are important in building the capacity to be able to hold governments accountable for fulfilling the rights of their citizens. Building alliances with communities and key stakeholders is possible through the use of social networking platforms as well as offline activities.
This institute will cover the following topics:
Social construct of gender
Human rights and women’s rights
Sexual and reproductive health and rights
Safe abortion access as a human right
Understanding relevant laws and policies
Communication skills including social media
Use of Facebook, Twitter and blogs for networking
The Institute will encourage leadership skills and engage in strategic planning to develop ongoing involvement. Participants will have further opportunities to work in close collaboration with ASAP country partners through small grants awarded.
Last date for applications: 15th May 2016
Find us on www.asap-asia.orgor join us on Facebook Download the application here: Click Here
Tags: Asia, Vietnam, youth institute
8th APCRSHR, MYANMAR
The Drop Safe abortion advocacy at the 8th APCRSHR
by Souvik Pyne, Intern, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership
The 8th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive & Sexual Health & Rights (APCRSHR) was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar from 23rd to 26th February 2016, which is a biennial gathering of civil society, young people, academia, government, media, private sector, and development partners from the region concerned about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
To my utter dismay and surprise this year, this important regional forum was bereft of meaningful discussion on safe abortion and its relevance to Asia. To my own knowledge, there had been many articles and abstracts submitted on the issue of safe abortion but none got selected for presentation while there was a looming ‘hush shush’ over the topic. Though there was a youth marketplace discussion on ‘teen pregnancy and abortion’, the mainstay of moderation remained towards prevention through contraception and sex education. Access to safe and legal abortion as a right hardly featured in any session.
The conference declaration couldn’t have ‘safe abortion’ explicitly worded in it since the proposition met with resistance. All these weren’t mere coincidences but a reflection of the persistent neglect and apathy towards these crucial women’s right and SRHR issue at large, which strongly challenges the notions of patriarchy.
Amidst such a scenario, we, a few Youth Champions of the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) who had been selected as Youth Scholars for the conference, planned to hold a film screening on abortion! The short film, The Drop was scripted, directed and produced by one amongst us, Anika Binte Habib from Bangladesh.
We checked with the organizers for the availability of the film room and found a free slot on 25th February in the afternoon. Small handouts were printed which mentioned the details of the film screening. We distributed them during the lunchtime of 25th February mainly to young people and requested their little time for the same. We were prompt in mobilizing people at the scheduled time from all corners of the large convention centre and even accompanied them to the film room.
There was a gathering of over 50 young people from countries all over Asia, from Bangladesh to Papua New Guinea. And they all watched the movie intently. The film showcased the experience of a woman who was forced to seek an unsafe abortion despite menstrual regulation being legal in Bangladesh. The film highlights the strong societal stigma shrouding the issue as well as the barriers at the level of providers and services. Post-screening, there was quite an engaging discussion with the audience, which instilled the importance of having and fulfilling the right of all women to safe and legal abortion. The reactions of the audience evinced the sensitizing impact of the film.
Our ASAP coordinator, Dr Suchitra Dalvie, gave a brief introduction about the ASAP network and we also shared our individual experiences as Youth Champions of ASAP. This invoked further interest among the audience to know more about our work and safe abortion advocacy campaign at large. Most shared their e-mail ids to remain connected and updated on this agenda. The APCRSHR is a rich platform for reaching out to people owing to the confluence of proactive people in the field of SRHR across the whole Asia-Pacific region. Since, ‘abortion’ was being swept under the carpet, it was a challenging yet apt stage for us, pro-choice safe abortion advocates, to bring forth advocacy in action. We created the advocacy space with alacrity and utilized it to keep the issue of safe abortion afloat in the realm of SRHR.
We hope that future conferences will ensure that the issue of safe abortion receives an official and legitimate space in the formal forums such as keynote addresses, plenaries and panels. In the meanwhile we will keep working to create our own spaces to ensure that there is no more silence around this critical issue! -
IPPF funds youth-led projects to tackle abortion stigma
In 2015, young people in IPPF Member Associations were asked to create projects which would tackle the issue of abortion stigma in their communities. Small grants were awarded to promising projects submitted by young people in Ghana, Palestine, Spain, Macedonia and Nepal.
Although the abortion law in Ghana is fairly liberal, almost half of abortions performed there are ‘unsafe’. Research has shown that abortion is common among university students, with 67% having had at least one abortion. However, only 10% of these students used safe, legal abortion services.
“The one-on-one education approach was very effective as the level of confidentiality was high so the students were able to open up to us about their problems.” Peer Educator
As access to abortion is extremely restricted in Palestine, young people at the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) developed a project which aimed to improve awareness of sexual and reproductive rights, especially rights relating to abortion.
“A woman has the right to decide about her pregnancy and options. Abortion should not be dealt with as if it is one case regardless of the woman’s social, economic and psychological conditions.”
Youth volunteers’ letter to the President
Young volunteers at Federación de Planificación Familiar de España (FPFE) formed the Yo Decido Cuándo (I decide when) project in reaction to the stigma women in Spain experience as a result of having abortions.
“There should be more forms of sex education for young people. I’m 22 and I have only now found out about how many options I have! This is unacceptable. If I had never come to this talk I would have remained ignorant.” Young person at education workshop
In Macedonia, the It’s About You project was set up by young volunteers at the Health Education and Research Association (HERA) to tackle stigma resulting from a government run anti-abortion campaign, changes in Macedonia’s abortion law and a lack of comprehensive sexuality education for young people.
“We had photos with young parents and their babies which is literally showing that being pro-choice is not equal to anti-life, a common misunderstanding among people in Macedonia.” Young volunteer at HERA
Following initial focus group discussions with medical students and youth volunteers, and preparatory meetings with local experts on abortion stigma to develop the curriculum, volunteers on the Yuva Pahal project organised comprehensive training workshops for medical students.
“I have understood that abortion is a human right. A woman’s bodily autonomy cannot be ignored and must be protected.”Medical student
FULL REPORT: IPPF
Tags: Ghana, Palestine, Spain, Macedonia and Nepal, young people, abortion stigma
MORE SOLIDARITY WITH POLAND
Catholics for Choice A draft law was proposed in Poland in April 2016, introducing a complete ban on abortion and a new category into the criminal code – “prenatal murder”, with a penalty of 3–5 years in prison for women, doctors and anyone helping a woman to perform an abortion. If the citizens' initiative who proposed the bill gets 100,000 signatures, it is likely to be heard in the autumn. On 9 April, there were solidarity demonstrations in 19 countries opposing the bill. Here are three more reports:
Catholics for Choice
On 1 May 2016, Catholics for Choice, bringing together Catholic activists and other reproductive rights activists, peacefully demonstrated in front of the Polish embassy in Washington, DC. Staff, activists and leaders from the American Federation of Teachers, Advocates for Youth, American Atheists, CHANGE, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, National Abortion Federation, NARAL, National Women’s Law Center, NHelp, National Organization for Women, the National Partnership for Women and Families, URGE, and the Women’s Information Network joined the protest on Sunday and others added their voices of support via social media.
Catholics for Choice also led the social media charge, reaching thousands of Twitter users and sharing with them messages of faith-based support for abortion access and women’s rights in Poland.
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly members
33 Parliamentarians from 19 countries in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly expressed concern about the current situation of reproductive health in Poland - in Written Declaration No. 604, tabled by Belgian Senator Hon. Petra de Sutter, entitled "Reproductive health and women's rights in Poland" they called on Polish parliamentarians to go against these initiatives and protect women’s rights in Poland. Their declaration: Reproductive health and women's rights in Poland Members of Lithuanian, Austrian, German and UK Parliaments
38 of the 141 Lithuanian members of Parliamentsigned letter to the Marshal of the Polish Parliament, Mr. Marek Kuchciński. Thanks to strong leadership and women's rights supporter, MP Ausrine Marija Pavilioniene and Lithuanian ASTRA member, Family Planning and Sexual Health Association, this was possible.
Members of the Austrian Parliament, Members of the Parliament of GermanyandMembers of the Parliament of the United Kingdomalso expressed their concerns in regard to the draft law and refer to the estimated number of terminated pregnancies at around 80 000 per year, and perhaps as much as 200 000 including illegal procedures and “abortion tourism”. They also point to the case of Romania under Nicolae Ceaușescu, whose anti-abortion law contributed to the deaths of more than 9,000 women in the years 1965–89. They call on the Marshall of the Sejm to reject this initiative, abandon the plans to end state funding of IVF and keep emergency contraception available over the counter.