Committee against Torture Holds Poland Accountable for its Failure to Ensure Women Access to Abortion Services, Urging Poland to Comply with World Health Organization’s Safe Abortion Guidance.
During its 51st session, the Committee against Torture deplored Poland’s record of failing to ensure women, particularly women who became pregnant as a result of rape, access to abortion services. Specifically, the Committee against Torture noted in its concluding observations that where women are unable to access abortion services due to the invocation of conscientious objection, they jeopardize their health by turning to unsafe, clandestine abortions, which could amount to violations of the protections against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The Committee against Torture urged Poland to comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO)Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems on Safe Abortion (2012) to ensure that conscientious objection does not prevent individuals from accessing services to which they are legally entitled. Furthermore, the committee urged the state to implement a legal/policy framework that enables women to access legal abortion services. Notably, this is the first time that a treaty monitoring body has explicitly urged a state to take measures to comply with the standards set forth in the WHO’s 2012 safe abortion guidance.
In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of P & S v. Poland that Poland’s denial of lawful abortion services to an adolescent amounted to a violation of her right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment. In this case, P., who became pregnant as a result of rape at age 14, was legally entitled to an abortion under Polish law. Nonetheless, hospital employees, church officials, and the judiciary harassed and manipulated P. and her mother, S., as part of an effort to prevent P. from accessing abortion services. Finally, after having her personal and medical data disclosed to the public, being refused services by providers invoking conscientious objection, being removed from her mother’s care and placed in a juvenile detention center without cause, the Ministry of Health interfered and she was provided with an abortion. However, she was not registered as a patient, and did not receive information or post-abortion care. The European Court of Human Rights found that this treatment violated the adolescent’s right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to liberty, and the right to respect for private and family life.
Center for Reproductive Rights highlights Nigeria’s human rights record at 17th Session of the Universal Periodic Review
Leading up to the 17th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (Oct. 21 –Nov. 1, 2013) the Center for Reproductive Rights actively engaged with governments from across the globe to provide them with information about the human rights situation in Nigeria. The Center urged these governments to make recommendations on how Nigeria could improve its human rights record, particularly in regards to sexual and reproductive rights.
As a consequence of our advocacy, member states issued numerous recommendations during Nigeria’s review that were related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including on maternal mortality and morbidity, female genital mutilation, early marriage, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women and girls. According to the Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Nigeria agreed to accept many of these recommendations including those on respecting sexual and reproductive rights; enhancing reproductive health measures; reducing maternal mortality; continuing efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation; and intensifying efforts to improve the status of women and girls. Nigeria also agreed to take further steps to domesticate international human rights treaties to which it is a state party, including the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Regretfully, Nigeria rejected a number of recommendations urging the elimination of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Furthermore, although Nigeria agreed to continue its efforts to address early marriage, it deferred deciding whether it will review legislation permitting children under the age of 18 to marry. Decisions on further recommendations relating to reproductive health and rights will be examined by Nigeria and final decisions on these will be made before the next session of the Human Rights Council inMarch 2014.
“We must address gender issues that continue to underpin the capacity of women to take decisions and actions that regard their health and child”
Dr. Ademola Olajide ~ Head of Division: Health, Nutrition and Population
African Union Commission
Africa has the highest burden of maternal and child mortality in the world. What should Africa do to reduce maternal mortality? What is your view on AU Member States’ commitments to the health care system of their countries?
Well indeed Africa has the highest burden of maternal and child mobility and mortality. What needs to the done requires a broad range of interventions hence there must be actions at community level where community members themselves are empowered to be able to take positive decisions about their own health because the primary source of generating good health is the household and household has to be strengthened. Secondly, we have to create systems that allow for people when they are sick to receive attention. Specifically with regards to maternal and child health, we have to focus on both maternal and child nutrition. We have to strengthen service delivery, ensure that there is qualified human resources for the health sector to provide care at the communities, ensuring that we can assure a continuum of care from the primary care level to the tertiary care level should the need arise. We must locate healthcare services not too far from the people and provide them the means to get there. So what need to be done are broad range interventions across several sectors. However, there are good practices that have examples of low cost impact interventions which can be adequately adapted by AU Member States. It has worked in some places and I think it can work in other places. Ethiopia for example, has had a successful community health extension workers scheme, providing care in the rural areas. I think schemes like that need to be put in place but we must strengthen nutrition, immunization and ensure that services are also strengthened and available.
What are the most promising interventions to reduce the number of women dying in Africa during childbirth and what are the challenges to implementing this practice where it is most needed?
The first challenge is political will. When there is political will on the part of governments to address these issues, they are not insurmountable. It just requires a broad-based partnership with development partners, civil society and even the communities themselves to address it. Promising interventions include auxiliary workers schemes so people who can provide a stop gap assistance between trained nurses, midwives, doctors and the community. They can be sent to rural areas to identify early signs of danger and provide facilitation to get patients to healthcare centers for treatment. It terms of maternal and child health, family planning remains a very potent intervention that would help. Maternal nutrition is also very critical but above all we must ensure to address gender issues that continue to underpin the capacity of women to take decisions and actions that regard their health and their child.
CARMMA has linked priorities in sexual and reproductive health, family planning, reproductive rights and reducing maternal mortality. Have the concerns been expanded, narrowed, or linked differently?
Well the issues that have been linked are sexual and reproductive health, family planning, reproductive rights. You must know that these issues are broad and are far reaching but they must still be translated and interpreted within the context of national policies and socio-cultural melee. That said, whatever we do promoting CARMMA as a campaign, the adequate link to reproductive rights and health, remains critical ensuring that people have access to family planning. However, we must take due cognizance of the socio-cultural dynamics in which we play and ensuring that everybody is moved along towards a process in which there is no coercion but where the process will facilitate people to make informed decisions.
The Demographic dividend can be a key to progress with the right policy environment in place. Some have described demographic dividend – growing populations as a potent driver of economic growth and development. What’s your take on this?
The Demographic dividend simply describes a process where you have a rapid sustained economic growth due to a change of demographic profile whereby we have a lowered morbidity, fertility and dependency ratio that produces a productive population to drive an economy in the right direction. However, it’s not just the huge population that matters but the quality of that productive population. Therefore, there are qualities based on their health, education all of those things that make them add value to their economy. For us to be able to reap demographic dividend, it requires that people are healthy and investment not just in maternal and child health but in health as a life circle course. Investment in education to ensure people are adequately prepared to be able to play their roles in the global community, investment in the social place to guarantee the rights particularly of the girl child and harness the contribution of the African women are some of the accompanying attributes. African women form 50% of the population and there is no way you can drive sustainable economic development by ignoring that percent, so it takes a whole lot of policies working together in synergy to provide the economic growth we desire.
26 November 2013
Nana Oye said that, its women faced a terrible toll of violence, adding that countries affected by conflict, as many as two-thirds of women had experienced sexual or physical violence or harassment and across the continent, violence of all forms undermined human and economic development.
She said development was quantifiable far beyond the financial bottom line, and there could be no wellbeing when inequality, discrimination and gender based violence existed.
“Sexual violence and subordination of women diminishes their ability to protect themselves from HIV-AIDs, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Rape has continued to be used against women in situations of conflict on our continent, and their aftermath” he said.
The Minister said she is devoted to the promotion of inclusive development in Africa for women and men, young and old, for rural and urban communities and for most fragile states as well as the most robust.
She explained that the ministry will worked in partnership with ministry of local government, civil society organizations and businesses to bring about a world which was not just rid of violence, but which ensured and then celebrated equality of opportunity and treatment for women as for men.
“My ministry has setting up service centers where women could access, free of charge, social, health, legal and economic services.” she added.
The governments which had established the institutions often inadequately funded and staffed to make the vision a reality, adding that, it would continue to argue that woman’s equality and opportunity before the law was the shared responsibility of governments and peoples alike.
JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma has officially launched this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
Zuma visited the Ikhaya Lethemba Centre in Braamfontein today where victims of abuse are being assisted.
The president was taken on a tour of the centre where he interacted with victims and social workers.
“We can say we have seen that the language here is very user friendly. They are called clients rather than victims.”
Zuma says he is impressed with the programmes available to help women and children at the facility.
He says the theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is ‘from peace in the home to peace in the world’.
At the same time, anti-rape non-governmental organisation Kwanele-Enuf Foundation is calling for rape cases to be properly investigated in South Africa.
The foundation, along with a group of residents, will take to the streets of Port Elizabeth today to raise their voices for victims of rape and gender-based violence
The organisation’s Andy Kawa, who is a rape survivor, says better services for women and children victims is urgently needed.
“We are calling on the police investigators and magistrates to take due care when they deal with cases because they are our gatekeepers to justice.”
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Uganda has one of the world’s highest unmet needs for contraception, leading almost 300,000 women to seek backstreet abortions each year – with many dying as a result, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) said in a new report released on Wednesday.
With four out of 10 women not wanting to get pregnant – yet not using contraception – Uganda’s unmet need for family planning is the second highest in the world after Samoa, according to the United Nations. One in five pregnancies in Uganda is terminated in an unsafe abortion, while abortions account for one in four maternal deaths.
“Women use crude ways. They insert whatever objects, they take herbs, whatever, to force [the] foetus to come out,” Maureen, a maternal health advocate told CRR in its report on unsafe abortion and inadequate access to contraception in Uganda.
Other methods include sitting in a solution of detergent and drinking bleach, according to the report, which said an estimated 297,000 induced abortions occur in Uganda each year.
“The fact that communities, societies, and nations around the globe can stand aside and watch as numerous young, energetic, and productive women perish through circumstances that are completely preventable is despicable,” Charles Kiggundu, vice president of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda, said in the report.
Maureen’s cousin, a university student, died after an unsafe abortion pierced her intestines. She went to hospital to seek help but was too scared to admit what she had done, instead telling doctors she was suffering from malaria. By the time the truth came out and she went into surgery, it was too late.
LAWS UNCLEAR, ACCESS POOR
Most Ugandans believe abortion is a crime, although government guidelines permit it on physical and mental grounds.
“The perceived illegality of abortion services in Uganda has led to stigma, fear and secrecy – driving far too many women to desperate measures to end a pregnancy,” Evelyne Opondo, CRR’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement.
“Leaders in Uganda must not only clarify the abortion laws, but also broaden access to information among health care professionals and the public at large about reproductive health care, including access to family planning and safe abortion services.”
At the root of the problem is a lack of access to contraception.
In Uganda, women have six children on average, one of the highest fertility rates in the world. Only 30 percent of married Ugandan women of reproductive age use contraception, according to the government.
A HUSBAND’S DESIRE AND WRATH
Women often face opposition from their husbands when they try to use contraception.
“If the man wants to have children, you have them,” Joyce, a mother of four, told CRR.
She secretly used the pill for six years before her husband found out.
“He didn’t want me to take the pills because [he said] they destroy a woman’s reproductive health,” she said.
“[He said they] also destroy their sexual urge. That’s what he told me and he gave me a thorough beating. He beat me very badly; all of my body was swollen.”
After that, he abandoned her to raise their children alone.
Many thanks to those who have already completed the Lancet Survey Questions on WHO in Africa in just 24 hours of its launch! It is exciting to see that we are engaged and increasingly our voices and contribution are a part of continental and global discussions on issues that affect us. We will like to confirm that the opinions expressed in this survey are non-attributable. It is for this reason that the survey does not request for any identification – name, organization, country or region. The survey must close on the 25th so please complete the survey timely! Please note that all responses need to be received no later than the 25th of November 2013.
The questions can be found on https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Lancet_Special_Report_on_WHO . It takes 10-15 minutes to complete the questions. Please feel free to share with partner networks or other individuals with interest in the work of WHO in Africa.
Global Health South
NEW YORK, 20 November 2013 – As the world marks Universal Children’s Day – the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNICEF is urging a much stronger light be shone on the millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse that continue to go unnoticed and under-reported.
“Too often, abuse occurs in the shadows: undetected, unreported, and – even worse – too often accepted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We all have a responsibility to ‘make the invisible, visible’ – from governments enacting and enforcing laws to prohibit violence against children, to private citizens refusing to be silent when they witness or suspect abuse.”
Violence against children takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and harsh disciplinary practices, and often occurs in situations of war and conflict. It can inflict both physical harm and psychological damage on children.
“Violence against children does more than harm individual children, it undermines the fabric of society, affecting productivity, well-being, and prosperity,” said Lake. “No society can afford to ignore violence against children.”
There are approaches that work to prevent and respond to violence against children. These include supporting parents, families and others who care for children; strengthening children’s skills to help protect themselves from violence; explicitly working to change attitudes and social norms that tolerate violence and discrimination; and strengthening and enforcing policies and laws that protect children.
UNICEF launched the #ENDViolence Against Children campaign earlier this year. It urges public acknowledgement of the problem of violence against children and encourages support and engagement with local movements to address a compelling global issue.
Universal Children’s Day also marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which this year celebrates its 24th anniversary. The UN Convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow and be protected from all forms of violence.
UNICEF is also recognizing today the important work of Child Helpline International (CHI), a global network comprising 173 member telephone helplines in 141 countries that celebrated its 10th anniversary today. In a global report released today, CHI says that violence, abuse and neglect are among the top reasons that children and young people contact child helplines, amounting to 17 per cent of all contacts over the last 10 years.
Africa: Global Conference Closes With Call for Family Planning to Be At Center of Development Agenda
Addis Ababa — The third International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2013) closed today with a Call to Action by civil society leaders for governments to prioritize family planning in the new global development framework that replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.
The Call to Action was issued as five additional African and Asian governments and the United Kingdom announced commitments to expand contraceptive access and options.
The Addis Call to Action on the Post-2015 Development Framework voices the perspective of civil society that the ability to plan one’s family and future is a fundamental right and a sound investment. Ensuring that women and girls are able to plan whether and when to have children means mothers and babies are more likely to survive. Additionally, when countries invest in family planning alongside health, education and gender equity, they can realize a “Demographic Dividend” for economic growth and prosperity.
“We still have leaders on the African continent who are not yet hooked on the message of family planning. The promise of the Demographic Dividend is an entry point to bring those leaders on board,” said Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of the Africa Regional Office of Partners in Population and Development, who presented the Call to Action at the closing session of ICFP 2013. “No nation in history has transitioned from a developing country to middle-income status without family planning.”
“Family planning is a development imperative because it unlocks the potential of young women,” said Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Rural Health Mission in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India. “Family planning can create a profound impact when it becomes a central part of integrated maternal and child health care.”
The Addis Call to Action was launched with signatures from 35 civil society organizations and individuals, and other organizations and individuals are invited to sign at www.fpconference2013.org. The Call to Action will be presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to underscore the essential role that global development goals–such as the MDGs and the new post-2015 framework–play in catalyzing action and holding countries accountable.
ICFP 2013, the largest global gathering on family planning, brought together more than 3,000 advocates, researchers, health professionals and political leaders from over 100 countries. Presentations at the conference, which was organized around the theme “Full Access, Full Choice” and opened 12 November, focused on progress in expanding contraceptive information and services since the historic July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, which re-established family planning as a top global health priority.
- At ICFP 2013, five additional countries made significant commitments to expand family planning programs:
- By 2015, Benin will ensure that modern methods of contraceptives are available without cost and that reproductive health training is provided for adolescents and youth.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government will use domestic resources for the first time to purchase contraceptives.
- In Guinea, funds will be used to recruit thousands of health workers who can deliver family planning in rural areas, as has proven successful in other countries like Ethiopia.
- Beginning in 2014, the government of Mauritania will commit to allocating health commodity security funds for family planning and, along with its partners, commit to mobilizing additional resources for the implementation of its national family planning action plan.
- Myanmar will implement a monitoring system to strengthen quality of care and ensure women have a full range of contraceptive options.
Also today, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) announced a £27 million commitment over five years to help civil society ensure that family planning promises are delivered. Since the 2012 London Summit, and counting the commitments announced at ICFP 2013, more than 70 countries, donors and civil society organizations have pledged to collectively reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 with voluntary access to family planning.
ICFP 2013 was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This year’s conference followed the inaugural ICFP in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009 and ICFP 2011 in Dakar, Senegal.
The International Conference on Family Planning
15 November 2013
Addis Ababa — New research shows that nearly 20% of young people never make independent decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
Incorporating young people in sexual and reproductive health matters, particularly those in marginalised groups and those affected by HIV, is an issue under the spotlight this week at a global conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The results of a global online survey with young people on sexual and reproductive health are being published on 13 November, at the International Conference on Family Planning. The survey was conducted as part of the Link Up project in association with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) and the ATHENA Network.
Reaching one million young people
Link Up is a project to advance the sexual and reproductive health rights of one million young people affected by HIV across Africa and Asia. And the survey highlights how access to services for young people is unlikely to be achieved unless their recommendations are made a reality.
Through the online survey, young people spelled out the barriers to their successful use of sexual and reproductive health services saying that lack of confidentiality and trampling down of their dignity drives them away. They also made recommendations for making services easier to use, such as the service providers using polite language to speak to young people.
During the launch of the report, youth from different countries who had participated, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Myanmar, cited stigma and discrimination, unethical and unprofessional service providers and lack of youth-friendly facilities as key barriers to their accessing sexual and reproductive health facilities.
For young people, by young people
Adebisi Adenipekun, a youth leader from Nigeria, suggested that youth facilities should be managed by young people instead of the general population.
“Young people can easily identify with each other’s challenges as opposed to the rest of the population who express awe at some of the challenges,” he said. Adebisi further pointed out that the name ‘family planning’ is inappropriate in relation to the youth because they are not planning any family yet.
Many young people make unhealthy decisions such as using unsafe abortion methods and abusing medical drugs because of fear to seek help from health facilities. Nafhot Aschenahi, a youth leader from Ethiopia, gave an example of a teenage girl attending an anti-natal clinic who felt stigmatised and uncomfortable because of the way service providers asked her very embarrassing questions.
Nafhot explained that even when the girl was in labor she was not spared insults and humiliation by the people who ought to be taking care of her. “The service providers should understand that there are different circumstances that can lead to pregnancy, including rape,” she observed.
Young people to speak out
Luisa Orza from the ATHENA Network said the launch of this survey was timely, adding that young people need sexual and reproductive health services as much as other parts of the population. She encouraged young people to keep vocalising their needs and to involve their respective governments and policy makers so that their issues may be addressed.
In the community dialogues, 62.5% of the participants identified as young people living with HIV, while 7.5% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Others were young men who had sex with men and young people who engage in sex work. All community dialogue participants were aged 24 or below. Some declined to identify themselves with any marginalised group for fear of cultural stigma.
Lucy Maroncha is part of the Key Correspondents network of journalists – I am a Kenyan Print journalist based in Nairobi,Kenya.I am a passionate health writer who has been writing for 15years. My best stories are on Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV.
AIDS Accountability International (AAI) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Ford Foundation is pleased to invite you to the Zambia Maputo Plan of Action (MPOA) Progress Assessment Tool (PAT) Completion workshop in 2013. This workshop aimed at verification of the Progress Assessment Tool (questionnaire) is one of five workshops being held in five countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
CLICK HERE FOR INVITATION LETTER to the Zambia MPOA PAT Verification Workshop. It is hoped that your participation at this workshop will be important in ensuring that the PAT completed by you, the national government has been done through a transparent and collaborative process.
In addition to the above, this workshop will ensure that participants have an opportunity to debate and discuss priority areas for Zambia achieve the MPOA targets by 2015.
Venue: Cresta Golf View, Great East Road, Lusaka
Date: 18th & 19th November, 2013
Time: 8:00-13:00 (Day 1) 08:30-17:00 (Day 2)
Please confirmation your participation, or request further information from:
Regional Manager for Africa
AIDS Accountability International
Tel. +27(0)79 912 9234
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & cc: email@example.com
AIDS Accountability International,