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youthagainstabortionstigma

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May 2018

A Young Leaders’ Workshop on the Consequences of Abortion Stigma

by Robert Désiré Doualamou, youth volunteer at AGBEF (Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial)

Abortion today is a rather delicate subject in most African countries, people do not speak much about it and the subject has become almost taboo in many African societies. Abortion can be defined as the voluntary termination of a pregnancy.

Many teenage girls have to seek abortions outside of the law, because of abortion-related stigma. To avoid being stigmatized and discriminated against in their communities, these girls who are find themselves in unplanned pregnancies practice unsafe abortion, which, of course, has detrimental consequences on their sexual and biological health and can even lead to death

In view of all this, as part of the “Choice, not crime, voice and action to save” project, the AGBEF Youth Action Movement organized orientation workshops for young leaders and mentors on the theme: ‘the consequences of abortion-related stigma’.

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Group work sessions were conducted during the training period in order to better assimilate the different themes that were discussed relating to abortion and socio-cultural values.

The main goal of this workshop was to make the population aware of the various stigma-related issues, and the repercussions that this can have on young people, especially young girls, through educational talks, awareness-raising sessions as well as door-to-door activities taking place in the different communes of Conakry, in Guinea.

At the end of this workshop, commitments were made by the participants to raise awareness about the consequences of stigma related to abortion, but these sensitizations are much emphasized on the factors that cause unwanted pregnancies. Because we cannot talk about abortion without pregnancy, so one of the key themes of awareness will be unwanted pregnancies. The mentors who took part in the training are responsible for supporting the young leaders in this fight.

 

 

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Abortion in Syria

By Maya Mahmoud, young volunteer at the Syrian Family Planning Association

Like in most other countries, abortion in Syria is a subject of controversy. Some stand with the person’s right to decide whether he/she is ready to become a parent or not, and that no one must be obligated to go through an unwanted pregnancy, while others believe that no one has the right to terminate a potential life, no matter what the situation is.

In Syria, having children is seen as essential in every marriage, in fact, there is a Syrian saying that says “each baby that comes, with it comes its wealth.”

There is also a high number of child marriages and a lack of awareness regarding family planning, which means that most families consist of several children.

Syria is a religious country in general and people often understand abortion to be prohibited by their religion. The stigma that follows any woman who has an abortion exposes her to a variety of stigmatizing attitudes and limits her access to good medical and social care for abortion. It also shames her because in many cases abortion is related with women who get pregnant out of rape or an affair out of wedlock.  Women who choose to opt out of pregnancy are often given many negative labels, such as sinners, as well as a bad person or even a bad mother if she has children.

In the Syrian law, abortion is almost completely illegal unless done to save a woman’s life however, due to the ongoing war in Syria, many people now seek abortion. The reasons are many, including low wages, the very expensive life costs due to the economic crisis. Additionally, many people lost their homes and have extra costs now since they have had to rent new houses elsewhere, so plenty of people can’t afford the expenses of an extra child.

Another major issue is the discrimination and inequality between boys and girls, which makes the news “you’re having a baby girl” very sad and shameful for a lot of people. In some cases it could get them to abort because they don’t want a girl, thinking that a girl only brings shame and extra expenses on the family. Some husbands even ask their wives to undergo dangerous procedures to abort since it isn’t legal and finding a doctor who will perform the procedure is very difficult. Many of these procedures end up with harming the woman’s health and threatening her life.

The Syrian law sentences any woman who aborts to prison for a time that ranges between six months to three years, whether she had taken an abortion medication or if it was done by another person (for example a doctor) with her consent. A person who provides a woman with an abortion or helps her do it with her consent receives a sentence of between a year to three years in prison. If the abortion causes the death of the woman he/she gets four to seven years of hard labor, and five to ten years if he/she used other procedures that the woman didn’t consent to, and if that person who carried out the procedure was a doctor or a pharmacist, the penalty is increased by a third to a double and all fines are doubled along with a ban from practicing their job.

Mostly, the government’s supervision over medicine is insignificant and there are ways to obtain pills for abortion. Many pharmacies sell them without a prescription and similarly, many doctors conduct abortion under the cover of names of other procedures. According to the way things take place, technically no one goes to prison unless the husband or someone files a lawsuit against the wife or doctor.

Personally, I believe that being a parent is a responsibility that demands a person who is psychologically, emotionally, and financially ready to raise a healthy emotionally-stable child. Thus, all people should have the right to decide for themselves whether they are ready to have a child or not. An unwanted child could suffer from many issues as he/she grows up, with the absence of social services or governmental supervision on families and children along with the absence of financial aid in. No child deserves that. People should asses their situation and have the right and access to end a pregnancy when they see fit.

We, the youth, always seek to achieve gender equality, empower women, raise awareness on family planning, and aim for a better future.

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 source: the Syrian Penal Code. Subject 247, 527, 528, 532.

 

Young Champions at the crossroads of innovative ideas // LES JEUNES CHAMPIONS AU CARREFOUR DES IDEES NOVATRICES

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By Kader Avonnon, Youth Champion at Association Béninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille, Benin

The second world inroad Global Gathering was held from 12 to 16 March 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia. This great world-wide event has brought together activists from around the world, including Africa, Europe and Asia, North America and Latin America, who are campaigning against abortion stigma.

The objectives of this meeting were to bring together various actors from all over the world who are working to reduce the stigma associated with abortion, and to analyze the global and regional challenges that countries face in implementing their daily actions.

This meeting was full of rich discussions, sharing experiences and good practices through several innovative exercises and activities. One of the flagship activities was the Exchange Festival that allowed representatives from countries and organizations around the world to share with each other the work they do in their country, the tools and materials they use as well as the strategies they use to talk about abortion in their country. At this activity, the young champions of the Packard Project represented IPPF by presenting the tools developed by IPPF on abortion and the work it does with young people in Benin, Burkina-Faso and Ghana on the fight against stigma linked to Abortion.

The young champions also participated in the media workshops and panel discussions. Our young champion Kader Avonnon was participated in a press conference simulation on abortion rights. The young champions also led a discussion session that focused on the importance of youth participation at inroads in the fight against the stigma of abortion. Some key recommendations were made at the end of this session in particular; to aim for 20% participation of young people (18-24) in the next inroads Global Gathering; to hold a youth pre-conference before the global gathering; and to increase representation of organizing committee of the inroads meeting; and lastly, to increase the network of Inroads members to 18-24 year olds.

It must be remembered that the inroads Global Gathering is the largest international meeting to date, providing an adequate forum for exchange among different actors around the world who advocate for the reduction of the stigma attached to abortion. The participation of the young champions at this meeting was an experience for them that inspired and sharpened their interest in their work on abortion. Therefore, they are better equipped to encourage the involvement of their peers at the local and international level and to pass on the gains made to them.

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La deuxième rencontre mondiale d’Inroads s’est tenue du 12 au 16 Mars 2018 à Zagreb en Croatie. Cette grande randonnée de portée mondiale, à réunie des activistes venus du monde entier notamment  de l’Afrique de l’Europe et de l’Asie, de l’Amérique du Nord et de l’Amérique Latine militant pour la lutte contre la stigmatisation liée à l’avortement.

Les objectifs de cette rencontre sont de réunir les différents acteurs venus du monde entier  qui travaillent pour la réduction de la stigmatisation lié à l’avortement. Analyser les défis mondiaux et régionaux que rencontrent les pays dans la mise en œuvre de leurs actions quotidiennes.

Cette rencontre a été riche en partage d’expériences et de bonnes pratiques à travers plusieurs exercices  et activités novatrices. L’une des activités phare a été le festival d’échange qui a permis aux représentant des pays et organisations du monde entier de partager avec les autres le travail qu’ils font dans leur pays, les outils et matériels qu’ils utilisent et même les stratégies qu’ils utilisent pour parler de l’avortement dans leur pays. Ainsi les jeunes champions du projet Packard ont représenter l’IPPF en présentant les outils élaborés par l’IPPF sur l’avortement et le travail qu’elle fait avec les jeunes au Bénin, au Burkina-Faso et au Ghana sur la lutte contre la stigmatisation liée à l’avortement.

Les jeunes champions ont aussi participé aux sessions sur les médias,  les panels de discussion de haut niveau et aux panels parallèles. Sur ce fait le jeune Champion Kader Avonnon a été panéliste dans le panel de haut niveau consacré à l’interview des journalistes telle une conférence de presse.

Les jeunes champions ont aussi conduit une session de discussion qui a portée sur l’implication des jeunes au sein d’Inroads dans la lutte contre la stigmatisation de l’avortement. Quelques recommandations phares ont été faites à l’issue de cette session notamment ; faire participer à hauteur de 20% les jeunes (18-24ans) lors des prochaines rencontres mondiales d’Inroads ; tenir désormais une pré-conférence des jeunes avant la réunion mondiale d’Inroads ; veuillez à la représentativité d’un jeune dans le comité d’organisation de la réunion d’Inroads. Accroitre le réseau des membres d’Inroads aux jeunes de 18- 24ans.

Il faut retenir que la rencontre mondiale d’Inroads est la plus grande réunion internationale à ce jour qui offre un cadre adéquat d’échange aux différents acteurs du monde entier qui militent pour la réduction de la stigmatisation liée à l’avortement. La participation des jeunes champions  à cette rencontre a été pour eux une expérience qui a galvanisé et aiguisé leur intérêt pour leur travail sur l’avortement. Aussi sont-ils mieux outiller pour susciter l’implication de leurs pairs au niveau local et international et faire répercuter les acquis sur eux.

        Kader AVONNON

        Jeune Champion/IPPF

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Photo Courtesy inroads, 2018. Photographer, Jenni Kotting.

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