International Safe Abortion Day was a huge success on social media with groups from all over the world connecting and talking about their abortion rights goals. The Asia-Pacific region kicked off conversations on combatting abortion stigma and promoting universal access around the #LetsTalkAbortion, #AbortTheStigma and #StepIntoOurShoes sparked by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership, Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Love Matters, CREA, Voice your Abortion, Youth Can Nepal and many others. ARROW drew focus to women human rights defenders while Beyond Beijing Committee organised a candle-lit visual in Nepal for women who have died due to unsafe abortion. Some groups also took the conversation onto Facebook, like Samsara (Indonesia), who hosted a live interactive webshow and SayWhat (Southern Africa) who hosted a lively discussion.
At mid-morning a statement by three United Nations human rights experts in support of safe abortion was released – this spread quickly. Our tweet on the topic was our most popular of the day. The UN Human Rights twitter account tweeted about the statement three times and that was retweeted at least 200 times. Around midday Justice Lucy Asuagbor, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa, African Commission on Human and People's Rights, also released a statement in support of women's right to safe abortion, this was not only shared on social media but also made the press in Southern Africa.
The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, commemorated the day by pointing out how many women die as a result of unsafe abortion and was retweeted 139 times. Still in the world of international institutions, Nomkita Mjwana snuck in a selfie from the Sexual Rights Initiative's side event at the UN Human Rights Council meeting, a panel entitled Global Action on Safe and Legal Abortion. Her talk there and the twitter conversation she instigated focused on barriers to accessing safe abortion.
By midday London time, Africa, Europe and the Middle East were in full swing. The Coalition of African Lesbians ran a great discussion around body autonomy and freedom. This theme was also a focus for IPPF Europe. The theme of stigma and negative gender stereotypes was picked up by the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, YouAct Europe and many more sharing artwork. A lot of people also referred back to the Czarny protest where people from all over have been wearing black in solidarity with Polish women since 20 September and the protests in solidarity with Irish women that took place on 24 September in more than 30 cities across the world in conjunction with the Irish Abortion Rights Campaign march in Dublin.
As the day progressed, Ipas stressed that abortion is not a crime. Decriminalisation was a major focus across Latin America with protests across the region and chats happening around #YoDecido #NoAlaCriminalización #AbortoLegal among others. There were so many groups active on the day it is hard to find highlights but Mesa Por La Vida and CLACAI did neat round-ups of their members' and other groups' work. Feminista arranged a 24-hour programme of talks in Brazil that also engaged with other countries in the region (see #PrecisamosFalarSobreAborto24h). In North America, law and policy changes were a major focus with protests and conversations happening over the Helms and Hyde amendments which both overwhelmingly affect access to reproductive health care for minority and marginalised groups in the US and countries receiving US development aid.
Many, many more groups were active and an incredible number of events were going on, too many to fairly represent them all here, but I hope this gives you an overview of one of the busiest 28 Septembers to date – and inspiration to keep up the important work!
SEXUAL RIGHTS INITIATIVE
Oral Statement, September 26th, 2016 , 33rd session of the Human Rights Council
Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms
Thank you Mr. President, Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.
We commend the Special Procedures and the Office of the High Commissioner for their courageous work to advance gender equality through their reports, country visits and public statements. Their rigorous investigation of human rights standards as applied to gender equality has shed light on the pervasive and shocking multitude of rights violations women and girls experience throughout their lives in all parts of the world.
We note with appreciation the initiative of some States to advance the normative and international legal framework on gender equality. However, we deeply regret the consistent parsing, fragmentation and erosion of women’s human rights which has prevented the Council from substantively taking up most of the findings and recommendations of the different mechanisms in a way that is meaningful for women and girls.
While States heatedly debate the semantics of women’s rights to control their own bodies and their own lives, according to UN agency statistics, each year, 303 000 women die from preventable maternal mortality, 20 million women are forced to seek out unsafe abortions, 225 million women are unable to access safe and modern methods of contraception, 1.2 BILLION women experience physical and/or sexual violence, and every single woman, in every part of the world, faces entrenched structural and systemic barriers to the realization of their human rights, their dignity and their autonomy.
We therefore ask States that seek to deny women their rights, for whom do you speak, when you speak about gender equality? Because it certainly isn’t for the women and girls of the world, it isn’t for us.
We call on this Council to stop using women’s bodies as the battlefield in which geopolitical and ideological debates are fought and to work together to advance women’s human rights as is your duty and obligation. I thank you.
Backstreet abortion a reality in Burundi: report of a survey
The group Solidarité des Femmes Burundaises pour la Lutte contre le SIDA et le Paludisme (SFBLSP Burundi) celebrated 28 September by reporting on a survey they conducted in four provinces of the country, including Bubanza, Cibitoke, Bujumbura and Bujumbura city. It found that the numbers of unsafe abortions is increasing year after year with serious consequences. The figures come from different health centres; the main groups surveyed were young girls and women, victims of incest and sexual abuse. In a public meeting, the group called for access to contraception for young girls and women and access to safe abortion.
“We are very much concerned about the increasing number of clandestine abortion performed in different localities. Burundi government has to adopt laws concerning access to safe and legal abortion following cases of sexual abuse, incest or when the pregnancy is a serious danger for a woman’s life”, explained Esperance Ntirampeba, the chairwoman of SFBLSB. She says it is hard to have two doctors who will permit legal abortion as it is stipulated in the Burundi penal code for a pregnant woman whose life is in danger.
In the discussion that followed, it was noted that Burundi has not yet ratified the Maputo Protocol.
Speech by Norway State Secretary marking 28 September at a packed meeting in Oslo
Sex og Politikk (IPPF Norway) together with FOKUS and our youth organisation SNU hosted a packed meeting in Oslo which opened with a speech by Laila Bokhari, State Secretary of Norway. Her speech began as follows:
"Let me first express my appreciation to civil society organisations in Norway and across the world for marking the International day for Safe Abortions. I would also like to pay a special tribute to the women in Latin America who more than 20 years ago launched the first campaign on safe abortion on a 28 September.
If women's rights had their rightful place in the family of nations, this could have been another United Nations day. We are not yet there. And we will not be there until the day we succeed in convincing all UN Member States that safe abortion should be an integral part of women's right to control and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality.
I am afraid that is not going to happen anytime soon. The question is: Are we making progress or are we moving backwards in making safe abortion a reality for women worldwide?..."
Her intervention was followed by a panel consisting of the Ipas CEO John Hetherington, SNU and YSAFE President Sarah Borgen and member of the SRHR All Party Parliamentary Group Karin Andersen SV (EUL-NGL).
When we founded Nómada two years ago, we did so to contribute – from journalism, innovation and the community – to moving our society forward and for progress towards a more transparent, more ethical, up-to-date position. And we are doing it based in journalistic research and making a place at the table for discussion topics that can be uncomfortable and difficult. One of these issues is abortion, its prohibition or the right of women to decide whether they have one. And we did this survey.
As we made public from day one, Nómada are feminists, and as feminists, we defend the rights of women and equality of opportunity with men. The most difficult rights to exercise are sexual and reproductive rights. In the face of the epidemic of sexual violence against women in Guatemala, we were interested in knowing what our readers think about abortion. Our readers are a community which in 2016 included more than 1.1 million people, of which 650,000 are recurrent; 81% are Guatemalans…
This was not a scientific survey, but an open survey – open to those who wished to answer. We collected 3,000 responses between 5 and 10 September 2016. One of the questions was: Between January and June 479 girls became pregnant through rape. The Deputy Sandra Morán has prepared an initiative to decriminalise abortion in these cases that would allow them to terminate these pregnancies in the first weeks. Do you believe that the Congress should debate this bill? Response: 67.01% YES, 30.44% NO, 2.55% NOT SURE.
Another question was: Who should decide whether a woman should terminate a pregnancy (mark all the answers you agree with): RESPONSE:
Abortion is not a question for the police, it is a question of health and rights
Finadas do Aborto
Photograph from a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro organised by the young people's group Finadas do Aborto, which literally means 'dead from abortion'. In the demonstration, they carried tombs with the names of women who had died from complications of unsafe abortion and placed them in a public square.
I decide who goes in and who comes out / Imagen de Anna Grimal
Radio Berta Cáceres
Aborto Y Tecnología Desde Una Perspectiva Feminista
28 de septiembre "Día Internacional por la Despenalización del Aborto en América Latina y el Caribe"
A radio programme produced by Radio Berta Cáceres with the Instituto de Género y Tecnología en América Latina y el Caribe, 2016. Participants in the programme included feminists, activists, researchers, lesbians, and transgenders from Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Chile, Spain and México.
Questions for discussion included:
• What is our approach as feminists to the subject of abortion?
• Legal abortion in a patriarchal system?
• What are the challenges that we feminists face who are fighting for free, voluntary and safe abortion?
• How can we use the available technologies from a feminist perspective?
With music from:
Caye Cayejera - Puro Estereotipo;
Furia - Aborto Retrospectivo;
Torta Golosa - Las Mujeres Abortamos
To criminalise abortion is to criminalise
poverty! Social justice!
@AsambleaEcuador demand law reform for women's health and decriminalisation of abortion in cases of rape.
mujeres exigen legislar por salud mujeres despenalizar el aborto en caso de violación
Colectiva de Acompañamiento Pro Decisión
Cimarrona es la defensa del poder de nuestros cuerpos: a video
We are a group of doulas trained and empowered by the Boston Doula Project and the community feminist organization Health Workshop, to provide information and support before, during and/or after the processes of abortion in Puerto Rico. We firmly believe that this must be an informed and respected process and that the accompaniment can be very valuable for making the experience of abortion positive.
The Colectiva made this video for 28 September. The title means: The defense of the power of our bodies cannot be controlled. The video consists of information about the law on abortion in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and the Greater Antilles. The video ends with various singers singing the song of the title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwtpxRVrGEY
Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de Puerto Rico, a coalition of 17 women's groups, shared the video with CLACAI.
Campaña 28 de septiembre y Pacto Nacional por la Despenalización del Aborto Bolivia
20 years of activism for safe and free abortion
The two groups organised the activities listed above on 27-28-29 September: including an activists' assembly on the 27th, a mobilisation at a public square on the 28th and an open debate with national and international experts and activists on the 29th. More info: https://www.facebook.com/campana28bolivia
Alianza por la Solidaridad
Alianza por la Solidaridad, through its campaign #SinRiesgo(which aims to de-stigmatise abortion in society) launched an initiative on Facebook to encourage people to change their Facebook profile picture with an App called Twibbon: http://twibbon.com/support/despenalizasudecisi%C3%B3n.
ACCEDER has created an infographic related the steps that women can follow if they need a therapeutic abortion, which is legal in the country. They also have a video about the law on abortion, posted on 29 September 2016, at: https://www.facebook.com/acceder.cr/
Heartfelt Congratulations to Everyone for International Safe Abortion Day 2016
There can be no doubt that this has been the very biggest celebration of 28 September yet!
Reports are still coming in. We currently have 15 additional reports to share next week as well as a long list of blogs and statements by members and newspaper articles reporting on the events that many of you have organised. Please continue sending/sharing your reports, visuals, posts and weblinks to us: firstname.lastname@example.org@safeabortionwomensright.org + Please also send us an official translation of International Safe Abortion Day in your language!!