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youthagainstabortionstigma

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January 2016

A mural to address abortion stigma in Palestine

By Hala Muharram, a young volunteer at PFPPA

After receiving permission from Halhoul municipality, we drew the mural on a school’s wall. While working on the mural, people stopped and asked about the work we’re doing. We assumed our responsibility to explain the idea of the mural. We talked to them about the meaning of abortion related services and women’s right to access safe abortion services. We also mentioned facts on how women get abortions in secrecy and often risk their lives. In addition, we discussed the importance of improving access to family planning and abortion related services to protect women’s rights.

People showed interest in the topic. An employee from Halhoul municipality, whose daughter was engaged, told us he’s interested that she knows about women’s rights and encouraged her to participate in the activity:

“We must all work to make a change in our community. We must provide the youth with the needed information and services. Reducing stigma against women is a must. I will encourage my daughter and all youth I know to participate in PFPPA’s activities” he said.

“I consider myself lucky to be alive”: a story of unsafe abortion in Ghana

by a student at the University of Ghana

It was cold but painfully, I dragged myself out of bed, peeped out of my window and saw that it was still dawn, the realisation that the day will break soon made me panic.  I took my seventh pregnancy test, yes, my seventh. I couldn’t accept that I was pregnant so I kept running the test over and over. With my eyes closed while I murmured a prayer, I was hoping it would read negative.

Alas, my deepest fear was confirmed, I was pregnant. Who could I talk to? Certainly not my parents.  I kept scrolling through my contact list looking for someone to talk to. I just broke down and cried profusely.

Exams were just three weeks away, my mum would not accept me being pregnant. I felt dejected. Dawn gradually gave way to morning and yet there was no array of hope in who to confide in. Hours later I remembered a former roommate who had passed comments and jests about knowing where to get abortion services from.

I searched frantically for her contact and put a call through. After nervously exchanging pleasantries, I still could not bring myself to tell her my predicament so I hung up. A week later I started feeling uneasy, could hardly concentrate in class and got unnecessarily moody. All that while I was surfing the internet for drugs I could use to terminate the pregnancy.

I came across many sites giving options but most were foreign sites, and I didn’t have the patience to wait to have them delivered. Working up some courage I called my former roommate again and informed her of my situation. We arranged a meeting the next day, by 5am we were on our way to this “doctor” friend of hers. At exactly 6:15am we were in his not so welcoming office-cum-procedure room where instruments were in glaring view and just a thin piece of cloth divided both rooms. Apparently my friend had already discussed the issue with him. He made no delay as he immediately asked me to go to the “procedure room”.

In short, it was a horrifying experience, with no counselling whatsoever to prepare me psychologically or even explain what would happen. There was not even a place to rest as the space was taken up by so many girls waiting for their turn.

As we descended the stairs, I was in pain, with a lot of questions running through my mind: how many girls had been there before me? Were the instruments sterilized? Was he a professional? Will everything be OK? Unfortunately, even before reaching my hostel, I was bleeding profusely and felt dizzy, accompanied with excruciating pain. Out of fear, my friend took me to her home instead of hospital where I gulped down several painkillers but it only got worse. The next thing I knew, I woke up at a hospital having passed out.

I had lost a lot of blood and was admitted for a week to recover – if I had been brought later I could have died. I couldn’t prepare adequately for exams and the ordeal I went through affected me psychologically so that I had to spend extra time to go through counselling.

Two years later, I am now 20 and have seen the Peer2Peer project being rolled out on campus. I am extremely excited because this is knowledge at the doorstep of young people and will save a lot of people from ignorance. If I was privileged to have known more about abortion I wouldn’t have gone through what I went through. I hope young people will be enlightened and make more informed decisions than resorting to hearsay and the services of unprofessional persons. Kudos to the Peer2Peer team and all who have worked in bringing this to fruition. To young people out there, especially those who experience unplanned pregnancy, I advise you to seek professional and trusted information and services like those provided by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana.

 

Macedonian film about government-led anti-abortion campaign.

Young volunteers at H.E.R.A – the IPPF Member Association in Macedonia – have spoken out against a government-led media campaign stigmatising abortion.

Lina macedonia cropped
Lina, young volunteer at H.E.R.A

This short film, made as part of the ‘It is about you’ project features young female volunteers and activists speaking out about the right to accurate and non-stigmatising information on abortion.

(The film is in Macedonian with English subtitles)

 

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