FEMALE MIGRANT WORKERS AND THEIR SRHR

a3a11-number-of-women-migrantsA rapid globalization in the world has a permanent facet in migration and population mobility, Nepal is no exception. Economic migration or migration for employment has dominated the movement of people in Nepal. Labour migration trends are influenced by gender dynamics. In 2011, there were over 237,000 Nepali women working outside of Nepal, about 12 percent of the total number of the 2.2 million Nepali migrants. According to the Kathmandu-based Center for the Study of Labour and Mobility, Nepali female labor migrants work in countries such as India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, primarily as domestic workers and caregivers. Only smaller percentage of women travel abroad for skilled work, most of these immigrants leave Nepal to do unskilled work at cheaper rated, such as domestic help, construction site labourers, factory workers, etc. Some of the women travel as legal immigrants and others often take a risk and entry without a permit.

While migration can provide new opportunities to improve women’s lives and change oppressive gender relations, it can also perpetuate and entrench traditional roles and inequalities and expose women to new vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities are more sever and acute among women migrants in unsupervised and unregulated sectors like domestic work which includes violence, exploitation, abuse leading to labour rights violations.

foreign-employmentSRHR of women migrant workers are subject to regulation by both countries of origin and destination. These regulations begin even before their deployment, with the requirement of medical screening for various conditions and diseases including pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. About 60 governments have established pre-departure and post arrival medical screening of migrant workers. On the other hands, not all countries have done the same for providing health and rights information and education to migrants. Female migrants who are classified as semi-skilled or unskilled workers often have limited access to health services and information. They face multiple barriers in accessing SRH services including language. Also, they have to deal with the negative attitude of employers towards ill or pregnant workers and with fear to termination from the job due to illness and pregnancy.

Currently, there are no sustainable pre-departure, post-arrival and reintegration programs in Nepal that address SRHR of women migrant workers. These information are provided by few organization. Once, they migrate to other countries, they have even less or no access to SRHR information. International agreements like International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)  which has comprehensive coverage of SRHR commitments and has an entire separate section on migration, it actually does not provide specific recommendations to address SRHR of female migrant workers. However, CEDAW has mentioned the health of women migrant workers and urges countries or origin to “deliver or facilitate free or affordable gender and rights-based pre-departure information and training programs which includes information on general reproductive health including HIV & AIDS prevention.

In 2015, a Nepali migrant worker- Nirmala Thapa was retried in Malaysia for getting an illegal abortion. Nirmala Thapa was 24 years old, who worked as an operator at a Sony factory, terminated her 6 week pregnancy  in Oct-24. She was arrested along with her doctor, while she was recovering post operation at a clinic. Abortion is allowed in Malaysia since 1989 but only when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or her physical and mental health. Nirmala was sentenced to a year in prison but has since been out on bail and living at a migrant workers’ shelter. Now, she has returned to Nepal. However, she is facing difficulties to re-establish in her community and sustain daily life.

In order to ensure SRHR of women migrant workers, origin and destination countries must ensure the provision of comprehensive SRH services and education at all phases of the migration cycle and facilitate the establishment linkages and referral networks with migrant friendly SRH service providers. To achieve this, governments from origin and destination countries must work together with civil society and other stakeholders in creating an enabling environment for female migrant workers to make life choices and exercise their Sexual Reproductive Rights.

Connection Between SDGs and Safe Abortion

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a new road map to improve the lives of people throughout the world over the next 15 years. Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights issues are currently featured on the SDG agenda expands their presence at both the global and national levels, by establishing SRHR specific indicators to measure progress toward the SDGs.

For the field of SRHR, the SDGs include several relevant goals and targets such as those related to health, education and gender quality. The goals and targets encompass many key aspects of SRHR, including access to SRHR services, comprehensive sexuality education, ensure reproductive rights, achieve gender equality as a matter of women’s and girl’s human rights, and the ability to make decisions about one’s own health. The SDGs are ambitious in their size and scope, consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets that are applicable to all countries equally, and take into account the economic, social and environmental challenges of our world.

The major component of SDGs SRHR related target is to advance women’s access to safe and legal abortion, in accordance with the new SDGs focused on health and gender equality.

SDGs Targets By 2030:

TARGET 3.1: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio less than 70 per 100,000 live births: The 2030 target calls for a two-thirds reduction in maternal mortality, based on the latest estimate for the maternal mortality ratio globally, at 210 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is well known facts that leasing cause of maternal deaths is unsafe abortion. A report by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2013 highlighted that numbers of unsafe abortion will continue to increase unless women’s access to safe abortion and contraceptives are questioned. Unsafe abortion is entirely preventable through ensuring women’s access to effective contraception together with safe and legal comprehensive abortion care in all regions, countries and among poor, young and vulnerable women. Nepal has announced free abortion service in 2015, and yet not implemented. This decision will definitely push the nation to achieve the target to reduce maternal mortality by 2030.

TARGET 3.5: By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs: Contraception is an essential component of family planning and SRH that allows individuals to determine if and when to have a child.

Unmet need among the adolescent and young is particularly high for spacing with 37.5 and 23.3 percent respectively (NDHS 2011).

Ensuring that SRH services are made available along with other basic health care e.g.immunization services or treatment for TB may increase access to care and information, especially for disadvantaged populations, such as adolescents, people with disabilities and those living with HIV. Access of services especially SRH related is difficult due to geographical areas in Nepal. SGDs planning and implementation will help Nepal Government to identify geographical areas where and types of services for which availability is lagging can help better target resources and technical assistance.

Access to safe, legal abortion has been recognized by the global community as an essential intervention in a package of comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health services that should be available to all women regardless of age, ethnicity, gender identity, geographic location, marital status, race, religion, socio-economic status or migrant status. 

Improved SRHR knowledge can help young people make healthy, informed choices about their reproductive loves. Understanding levels of knowledge among adolescents can help identifying gaps in preparing young people for this important part of life.

cpqnr-1xgaakvkf“Only 38% of women know about abortion is legal in Nepal-NDHS 2011. Knowing the adolescent birthrate and whether those births were planned can help quantify challenges facing young people, including their unmet need for contraception and lack of access to education, information and services appropriate for them. For very young adolescents (ages 10-14), early childbearing can be a marker of forced marriage and abuse.”

And also adolescents in particular need universal access to youth-friendly and non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services that respect their sexual and reproductive health and rights and their rights to confidentiality, privacy and informed consent.

TARGET 5.6: Gender Equality: Lack of gender quality affects almost every facet of life for women and girls around the world. Gender equality includes recognition of women’s autonomy and capacity to make informed and independent decisions about their sexuality and reproduction through laws and policies allowing access to safe and legal abortion. Women’s access to safe and legal abortion is as relevant to gender equality as women’s equal access to education, employment, adequate food and housing.

In order to protect women’s health and lives, it is critical to promote access to safe abortion and to reduce the incidence of and complications from unsafe abortion. Better data collection is necessary in this area to improve the medical and legal environment for providing safe abortion care and to reduce the stigma surrounding the procedure.

The success of key SDGs will depend in significant part on the extent to which important stakeholders-including governments, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations take seriously the specific SRHR targets and fully implement the relevant policies, services and programs to attain them. All the stakeholders should realize that the success of SDGs depend upon women’s & girl’s access to safe and legal abortion in all region equally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Sensitization on Safe Abortion

Youth Champion Advocacy Network Nepal, YOUTHCANN had received a small grant from Asia Safe Abortion Partnership to organize various advocacy session on safe abortion to different groups like young people, service providers and media people. On the occasion of September 28, Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, YOUTHCANN organized half day sensitization program on safe abortion to media persons from print and radio.

Media is one of the most powerful instruments of communication. It plays a very constructive role in today’s world. As we know media plays an important role in increasing of public awareness and collect the views, information and attitudes toward certain issues. It presents the real stage of society. Without the media, people would be isolated, not only from the rest of the world, but also for the total formation of creditable world.

The media has got a vital role in molding positive perspective on abortion among people and spread positive message in the society to #BustTheMyths. But there is a myths on media

Myths: Most Media People Object the Abortion.

Facts: Media People are Often leading Advocates for Safe & Legal Abortion

Resource person Ms. Madhabi Bajracharya from Ipas shared that Ipas Nepal also closely works with media people and organize sensitization program for them regarding abortion. It has been observed that media people have their own values and they rarely accept abortion a woman’s right. Holding ones values on abortion might give rise to bias news and information which simultaneously lead to #abortionstigma and discrimination.

Likewise, one of the Youth Champions shared that she has been following various articles been published in newspaper and online news regarding abortion, the media always covers news on women deaths and complication due to abortion but they never specify where the deaths and complications are due to safe or unsafe abortion. There is difference between safe or unsafe abortion and reporting accordingly.

LM-abortionStigmaSP-info3-130915_02-1024x1024There was very good discussion among participants and facilitators. One of the media person asked what YOUTHCANN is doing to avoid abortion? Avoid Abortion…….. Well YOUTHCANN never promotes abortion. We are pro-choice and we respect informed choice and decision of every woman. We encourage young people to use modern contraceptive to prevent unwanted pregnancy which may lead to abortion. Even if Government has been giving more emphasis to contraceptive and it is free in almost all the health facilities, women do seek for abortion services. We encourage women and men to have safe and legal abortion which has less complication instead of unsafe traditional abortion which leads to death.

The participants were more curious to know about data on abortion and its failure rate. Also, they were keen to know the percentage of young women going for abortion. They perceive various myths on abortion like:

  • Infographic-2Most of the young unmarried women undergo abortion.
  • Abortion is a crime.
  • Fetus has its right of survival
  • Young people are using abortion as family planning.
  • Repeated abortion is dangerous.
  • Service providers do not want to perform abortion
  • INGOs are promoting abortion.
  • Abortion leads to infertility.
  • Woman needs husband consent for abortion.
  • Young people should not be given SRHR information and access to service.

All these Myths are cleared by the resource person Madhabi and Deepndra Khaniya. Deependra Khaniya is Managing Director of nation’s leading radio station Radio Audio which supports young people’s SRHR and on-air program on safe abortion. Deependra shared that his team receives more than 200 SMS daily from young people between 15 and 24 years which is mostly related to SRHR. Even if we do not allow young people to talk, listen and see SRHR stuffs they will definitely receive information from somewhere which might be incorrect and lead to unexpected situation. These days young people are more prone to social media and it is not always necessary they absorb only good information. Even we are helpless to block or stop the inaccurate information to reach our young people. Therefore, it is our job: media people’s job to clear our own values regarding abortion and provide reliable information to them.

Media should be sensitive when they write articles, news and on-air program on safe abortion. No woman undergoes abortion with her interest. It’s due to some reason and media should analysis those situation. One of youth champion shared that she had read an article which says, “Young girls in school uniform goes to abortion clinics and its increasing.” Well most of our government health facilities are Youth Friendly Service centres. It remains after school to reach most of the young people with information on SRHR. It’s government’s initiation. The YFS centres are in health institutes which provides safe abortion service as well. So, it would be discrimination to young school going girls if we publish on one sided information. May be she was there in health facilities for science project work or her regular meeting with community girls. This kind of bias information only hampers young girls and our country will never progress.

Youth Champion Prabina Sujakhu led value clarification exercise. Upon asking the statement: HIV infected woman should not give birth, most of the participants raise their hand in favor to the statement. The concern was if mother is infected she is not health enough to give birth to healthy baby. Some said infected mother gives birth to infected baby. Upon asking what if she knew pregnant. Most of the participants replied abortion is best option for her. But we facilitator shared its her right whether or not she wants to have her baby and knowing about safe procedure now we have in medicine which protect baby form HIV infection, the participants were forced to rethink.

Likewise, on asking whether husband’s consent is necessary for abortion most of the male participants were in favor to the statement stating mutual decision is the best which won’t lead to disturbance in family. Due to conflict in family, the marriage ends in divorce. But female participants shared that its woman’s body and she has her full right to decide about her pregnancy. There were argument between male and female participants on this statement.

Similarly, on asking abortion is killing fetus all most all the participants agreed upon address fetus as baby and life starts from conception. But the participants seem to be convinced when facilitator shared that there is not any study to show when life begins. Fetus depends on woman’s body as parasite. Life is only counted when it survives with its own.

At the end of the program, a video was shown “News Room Bahira”. The video talks about Sushila Jaisi’s death due to unsafe abortion. This video make the participant realized that even if there is availability of contraception for free of cost, abortion occurs. Abortion is always woman’s last decision. Use of contraception leads to prevent abortion.

The participants shared that this was the first time they had attended session on abortion. They realized bias information leads to #abortionstigma and discrimination. They also promised to contact YOUTHCANN for accurate information and resource materials on abortion as well as SRHR. In deed it was a fruitful orientation.

CALL FOR ACTION: sept 28

2

CALL FOR ACTION

Join us this September 28
in Speaking Out Against
#AbortionStigma!

Here are 3 easy ways you can get involved:

1. Speak out against #AbortionStigma through the September 28 Virtual Mural 2.0
2. Sign up for the September 28 Thunderclap

3. Endorse the September 28 Manifesto

And for ideas on ways in which you can mobilize and advocate at your local level, check out our video compiling September 28 actions in 2013, as well as this year’s TOOLKIT!

It’s High Time We Lived in a World
Free from Abortion Stigma!

This September 28, the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) in partnership with the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and La Campaña 28 LAC, [1] are calling on our members, partners and allies all around the world to speak out against abortion stigma.

Abortion – an action undertaken to effectively end a pregnancy – has existed since time immemorial and is a common experience during women’s reproductive and sexual lives.

Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that it is likely that the numbers of unsafe abortions will continue to increase unless women’s access to safe abortion and contraception — and support to empower women (including their freedom to decide whether and when to have a child) — are put in place and further strengthened.” 2014 Report of the Secretary-General Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Globally, approximately 44 million pregnancies worldwide end in voluntary termination each year.[2] Yet abortion stigma continues to play a critical role in the social, medical, and legal marginalization of abortion care worldwide,[3]constituting one of the main obstacles towards the availability and accessibility of comprehensive abortion information, care and drugs.

The stigma surrounding abortion is complex and pervasive, as well as produced, reproduced and reinforced at individual, community, institutional, cultural, and legal levels. Entire communities stereotype, ostracize and discriminate against individuals who need and seek abortions, as well as women human rights defenders attempting to help individuals to access this human right. The stigma surrounding abortion thus shames and silences individuals seeking abortion, individuals who have had an abortion, and healthcare providers in this line of work. In some cases, moreover, abortion stigma justifies and upholds restrictive and coercive laws criminalizing abortion, thereby serving as a major contributor to unsafe abortions, and subjecting countless persons to grave human rights violations. The stigma surrounding abortion also intersects with pervasive power relations, patriarchal norms, wrongful gender stereotypes,[4] and privileged identity markers, entailing that safe abortion services are rendered even less accessible for certain groups, among them adolescents, unmarried young women, individuals of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and other groups living in vulnerable situations. Abortion stigma is so pervasive that it has rendered access to safe and legal abortion virtually untalked about in intergovernmental spaces, as the international community sets out to establish the New Development Agenda which will replace the Millennium Development Goals ending in 2015.

In all of these ways and operating at different, intersecting levels, abortion stigma infringes upon peoples’ human rights, among them the right to bodily and psychological integrity, the right to autonomy, the right to health and the right to life free from harm.

As such, this September 28 we’re speaking out against #abortionstigma!

Join us in holding government leaders accountable to their existing commitments on access to safe and legal abortion, and advocating for the inclusion of safe and legal abortion in the Post-2015 Agenda!

Diverse Actions, Different Places, One Demand:

Access to Safe & Legal Abortion NOW!

www.september28.org

REMEMBER TO SHARE YOUR INITIATIVES WITH US!!!
To report your planned or implemented action,
please go to
http://www.september28.org/contact-us/

sept

September 28 Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion forms part of the campaign activities undertaken by  International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, that aims to build an international movement to promote universal access to safe, legal abortion as a women’s health and human rights issue. As part of the International Campaign Advisory Group, WGNRR leads the coordination of September 28 annual campaigning activities, conducted by Campaign and WGNRR members, as well as allies around the world.September 28 has been a regional campaign for decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and Caribbean for nearly twenty years before being taken on by SRHR activists all over the world as a Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion in 2011.

[1] Campaña 28 de Septiembre, Día por la Despenalización del Aborto en América Latina y El Caribe
[2] Guttmacher Institute, Facts on Induced Abortions Worldwide, retrieved 16 August 2014.

[3] Inroads, Why Abortion Stigma, retrieved 28August 2015. (For more information and to get involved in the eradication of abortion stigma, please visit www.endabortionstigma.org.)
[4] Please see Simone Cusack and Rebecca Cook’s “Stereotyping Women in the Health Sector: Lessons from CEDAW,” Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice 16.1 (Fall 2010): 47-78, retrieved 27 August 2014.