OURs - News piece

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights launches campaign to decriminalize abortion

On Jan. 18, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) launched a continental campaign for the decriminalization of abortion in Africa to bring attention to unsafe abortion which significantly threatens women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights.

ACHPR announced the campaign during the African Union Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe abortion continues to be a major cause of maternal deaths and injuries in Africa. Roughly 47,000 women die each year from complications from unsafe abortion and nearly two thirds of those deaths occur in Africa. In fact, more than 6 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa, resulting in 29,000 deaths and countless serious injuries and disabilities every year for poor, mostly rural-based African women and girls under the age 25.

Hon. Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women, said these deaths occur partly because of laws that criminalize abortion, presuming that the threat of arrest or imprisonment will prevent women and girls from having abortions. Yet making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions nor deter women from having abortions—it just makes abortion unsafe and risky, resulting in more women suffering injury or even death from complications from unsafe abortion, she noted during the campaign launch event.

The ACHPR is committed to bringing countries into compliance with their commitments under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol); the Maputo Plan of Action; and the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). To that end, the ACHPR has called on governments to demonstrate their commitment to African women and girls by decriminalizing abortion in their respective countries.

“Ipas is proud to partner with the ACHPR on this campaign. We are ready to bring our growing body of evidence around the criminalization of abortion to the table and will continue to push for access to safe, legal abortion for women in Africa,” says Ipas Africa Alliance Senior Advisor Lucy Lugalia, who participated in the campaign launch event.

For more information, contact media@ipas.org

Originally published on Ipas website

OURs - News piece

The Congressional Frontline: The question of Legal Abortion in Brazil

As previously reported by SPW (here and here) , for some time now, growing obstacles have been impairing any movement forward in the legalization of abortion in Brazil.

Yet, despite many regressions and constraints, feminists groups committed to the right to decide continue to bravely resist anti-abortion forces.

This resistance was sharply illustrated at a public hearing held on August 6th, 2015 at the Human Rights Committee of the Federal Senate to discuss a proposition aimed at regulating access to the voluntary termination of pregnancy up to the 12th week.  It is in many ways paradoxical that such a progressive proposal would have reached the level of the Senate level when, after the 2014 elections, the overall Brazilian legislative environment is the most conservative it has been since the mid 1960’s.  To understand this paradox it is necessary to briefly recap what has happened in Brazil in the realm of abortion politics since last year.

Between August and September 2014, two young women — Elizângela Barbosa and Jandira Magdalena dos Santos — died in Rio de Janeiro after resorting to clandestine unsafe abortions. While public authorities were entirely silent on the matter, these tragic deaths triggered wide indignation in society at large.

Dozens of articles were published in both the mainstream press and social media networks; a group of feminists from Rio launched a public petition to legalize abortion that would be presented to federal executive officials and the Supreme Court in March 2015; and, in this same occasion, Congressman Jean Wyllys (PSOL, Rio de Janeiro) tabled a law provision on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the House, inspired by the Uruguayan laws of 2008 and 2012, which include a chapter on voluntary termination of pregnancy (see Grotz, 2015). During this same wave, a proposal to legalize abortion, technically known as SUG, was also presented to the Senate through Congress’ internet participatory mechanism (e-Legislativo) that allows citizens to submit law reform provisions.  Since the provision has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, it has automatically entered the formal legislative process.


By Sonia Corrêa

Read the full article on the Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) website

A Victory for LGBT Rights at the UN

LGBT rights secured a major bureaucratic victory at the United Nations today when member states overwhelmingly voted down a Russian-backed proposal to curtail benefits afforded to the same-sex spouses of UN staff.

The vote failed by a margin of nearly 2:1. 77 countries voted against the bill, and only 44 supported it, while 36 abstained.

At issue was a directive issued last year by Ban Ki Moon to extend partner benefits to all United Nations staff in same sex unions, regardless of nationality. Previously, only spouses from countries where same sex unions are legal were afforded regular spouse benefits. Russia lodged an objection to this measure, which was finally put to a vote in the UN’s budget committee today.

The vote breakdown is particularly interesting. As expected, Russia was backed by socially conservative countries, mostly in the middle east and Asia. North America and Europe were all solidly opposed. Latin America titled against the measure. The swing votes in Africa and Asia, though, mostly tilted toward abstentions, thereby assuring the measure would fail. This is despite the fact that, particularly in Africa, opposition to LGBT rights is often a politically expedient wedge issue.

Read the full article from Mark Leon Goldberg on the UN Dispatch website