October 10, 2022
Half a billion people now have access to abortion
By Agustina Ordoqui
The Wrap brings you all the latest news on women’s rights around the world, including:
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IRAN – The death in police custody of Mahsa ‘Zhina’ Amini has triggered a political crisis in Iran, with thousands demonstrating against the Islamic regime and its compulsory hijab law. At least 185 people have died in the crackdown on protesters, including young activist and TikToker Hadis Najafi. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was detained by the « morality patrol » for not wearing the hijab « correctly ». Her family claims she died from a blow to the head. In response to her death, women have been cutting their hair and removing or even burning their headscarves in public. On October 1, several demonstrations took place worldwide to support Iranian women. To learn more, read Nazanin Nour’s essay on the fight for freedom in Iran, published by Impact and our sister newsletter, Les Glorieuses.
BRAZIL – Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert were elected on October 2, becoming the first transgender women representatives in Brazil’s congress. Two Indigenous women also became the first to be elected to the lower house: Sonia Guajajara and Célia Xakriabá, for Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais respectively. Ediane Maria – a Black candidate and member of the LGTBQIA+ community – will be the first domestic worker to take a seat as a state legislator for Sao Paulo. In the presidential race, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva won 48.33% of the vote, while Jair Bolsonaro obtained 43.20%. The second round will be held on October 30. Read Mariana Fagundes’ report on the wave of Black, queer and favela women who ran for election here.
SOUTH AFRICA – The South African government will introduce a bill to establish a national council on gender-based violence and femicide. The council will be responsible for implementing a national strategic plan to eliminate violence against women in the country. Women’s minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced the new council in September. In 2019, South Africa declared a national crisis over the rising number of femicides in the country, where one woman is killed every three hours. Police recorded 855 femicides between April and June this year alone.
INDIA – On International Safe Abortion Day, India’s supreme court ruled that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act – which allows abortion up to 24 weeks gestation – also includes unmarried women and cases of marital rape. Last year, an amendment to the law left access to abortion between 20 and 24 weeks of pregnancy unclear. As a result, it was only guaranteed to married women. But the court has now ruled that this distinction is unconstitutional as it violates the right to equality before the law and equal protection.
THAILAND – Thailand will extend the right to abortion up to 20 weeks. According to an amendment to the Thai penal code, which will come into effect in the second half of October, abortion on request is permitted up to 12 weeks of gestation, while those who seek abortion between 12 and 20 weeks must first obtain consent from a doctor. The procedure is also legal after 20 weeks in cases of risk to life, foetal anomalies or rape. Abortion was legalised in February 2021 after the constitutional court ruled that criminalisation was partially unconstitutional.
MOROCCO – The death of a 14-year-old girl from an unsafe abortion has fuelled calls to change the penal code in Morocco. The girl, known as ‘Meriem’, bled to death at the home of the man responsible for her pregnancy, who is accused of sexually exploiting her. Protesters demonstrated in front of the parliament in Rabat on International Safe Abortion Day in the wake of the girl’s death. Abortion is only authorised in Morocco cases of risk to life, and with spousal consent. The penal code stipulates penalties of six months to two years in prison
US – The state of West Virginia banned abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to life in September. In Arizona, a judge ruled that the state can enforce a near-total ban on abortion based on an 1864 law that has been blocked for the past 50 years under Roe v Wade. In California, governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support the right to abortion in the state, incluiding a data protection law for people who have had abortions. The government also launched a website to facilitate access to information about pregnancy termination. Meanwhile, a judge in Indiana blocked a law banning abortion that came into force last month.
FRANCE – The morning after pill will be made available free of charge in pharmacies without prescription for all women and people who are able to conceive in France, regardless of their age. Testing for sexually transmitted diseases will also be free for people under 26. These measures will be included in the social security financing project for 2023.
SLOVENIA – Slovenia has become the first post-communist country in Europe to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt. In July, the constitutional court ruled that preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying or adopting children was discriminatory and a violation of their rights.
CUBA – Cuba has legalised same-sex marriage and adoption. The country’s new family code also recognises gender-based violence and legalises surrogacy. The code was approved in a referendum in September, with 67% of the vote. The reform also contains several child protection guarantees, including the prohibition of child marriage. Cuba is the ninth country in Latin America to approve equal marriage, behind Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico.
Sign this petition in support of Iranian women and to call on the international community to take action now.
This issue of Impact was prepared by Agustina Ordoqui, Anna Pujol-Mazzini and Megan Clement.
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