June 13, 2022
A femicide every 27 hours in Argentina, Americans want abortion to remain legal, and Spain claims « Only yes means yes »
By Agustina Ordoqui
CHILE: The chamber of deputies in Chile has passed two bills aiming to improve reproductive health in the country. Adriana’s Law seeks to prevent obstetric violence during gestation, pre-birth, childbirth and postpartum, as well as in cases of abortion. The law is named for a young mother who lost her baby at the end of her pregnancy due to medical negligence despite repeated requests for help at two different hospitals. The second initiative would oblige the Chilean state to promote programmes that make menstrual products affordable for all. Both bills will need to be approved by the senate to become law.
JAPAN: The Japanese parliament is set to pass legislation allowing women to use abortion pills, but only with the consent of their partner. The new law would end the country’s ban on abortion medication. Termination of pregnancy is legal in Japan in limited circumstances such as rape or risk to the pregnant person’s life. Currently, the only legal method for abortions and miscarriages is curettage, which is not recommended by the World Health Organization. Japan is one of eleven countries worldwide which requires third-party consent to perform a legal abortion.
MADAGASCAR: The Malagasy government has submitted its observations on a bill decriminalising abortion on medical grounds. The bill was introduced in October 2021 by congresswoman Masy Goulamaly, but withdrawn at the government’s request for evaluation. After eight months, the bill has been reintroduced in the assembly, although it has not yet been included in the agenda. Assembly presidents have consistently removed the bill from the agenda under the pretext that it is contrary to Malagasy values. Abortion is totally prohibited in Madagascar, even in cases of rape or health risk.
MEXICO: Baja California Sur has become the ninth Mexican state to legalise abortion, following Guerrero, which approved similar measures last May. On June 2, the state’s congress approved an initiative that guarantees free and voluntary termination of pregnancy up to 12 weeks and six days of gestation. The new law also eliminates prison sentences for those who terminate pregnancies, regardless of the gestation period. The Mexican supreme court – which in September 2021 ruled in favour of decriminalising abortion throughout the country – has now also ruled in favour of allowing children and adolescents between the ages of seven and 12 to have abortions in cases of rape, without the need for parental consent.
US: Three out of five Americans believe abortion should remain legal, while only a third think it should be banned, according to a Pew Research Center poll released in May. A majority of both men (58%) and women (63%) said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The percentage of those opposed to abortion has declined from 43% to 37% since 2015. Yet as the country awaits supreme court decision on Roe v. Wade, several states have moved to further restrict abortion. The governor of Oklahoma signed a law banning abortion from the moment of fertilisation, the most restrictive law in the country so far, while Louisiana lawmakers passed similar legislation that does not provide for exceptions in cases of rape or incest. On May 14 there were demonstrations across the country in defence of abortion rights.
ARGENTINA: Thousands of people marched across Argentina on June 3 on the sixth anniversary of Ni Una Menos, a movement that emerged after the murder of 14-year-old Chiara Paez, which spread across Latin America. According to the Observatorio de Femicidios en Argentina, there has been one death linked to femicide every 27 hours since the beginning of the year. Another report revealed that 251 femicides were committed in 2021, of which 116 cases concerned victims between 25 and 44 years old. In 88% of cases, the victim knew the killer.
HONG KONG: One in four women aged 18-34 has experienced online sexual harassment in the past two years, while one in five experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission. The study found that 72.5% of female victims were sexually harassed by men in the workplace and 15.8% were harassed by both men and women. The commission recommends reforming the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to make employers legally liable for third-party harassment as well as reforming sex education in primary and secondary schools. Another survey, by Save the Children Hong Kong, revealed that two in five teenagers have been unwittingly exposed to sexual content online.
AFGHANISTAN: A new Taliban decree obliges women to cover their faces, either with a head-to-toe burqa, which has a mesh screen over the face, or with a niqab, which covers the face except for an opening for the eyes. Women working in television are also required to wear the face veil. On May 29, women defied restrictions and protested against the Taliban regime in Kabul, chanting « Bread, work, freedom » and « Education is my right! Reopen the schools!” Since the Taliban regained power in August, several restrictions have been imposed on women’s rights: many have been prevented from going to work and travelling alone, while girls have been banned from going to secondary school.
SPAIN: The Spanish congress has passed the Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Act, known as « Only yes means yes”. The act will now be debated by the senate in order to become law. Teenagers aged 16 and 17 and people with disabilities will be able to have an abortion without the consent of their parents or guardians, according to new legislation promoted by the government. In Spain, abortion is legal up to 14 weeks of gestation and up to 22 weeks in cases of risk for the pregnant person’s life or in case of non-viable pregnancies. The bill also provides days off for painful menstruation, free morning-after pills, funding for contraceptive methods, pre-birth leave from 39 weeks, sex education from infancy, and the elimination of tax for specific menstrual hygiene products.
POLAND: Poland is the least LGBTQIA+-friendly country in the European Union, according to an ILGA-Europe ranking. This is the third year in a row the country has scored the lowest among EU countries, while in the overall European rank it finished ahead of Belarus, Russia, Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Gay marriage is not legal in Poland, and conversion therapy is allowed. Recently, a court overturned two 2019 resolutions that erected « LGBTQIA+-free zones » in Lublin, the country’s ninth-largest city, and in Ryki, a town in the southeast. A court also ruled in favour of activist Bartosz Staszewski, who had been accused of « defamation » by the municipality of Niebylec for using the term “LGBT-Free Zone” in the media.
This issue of Impact was prepared by Agustina Ordoqui, Heloísa Marques, Megan Clement and Steph Williamson.
Impact is financed by the New Venture Fund.
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