Asia and the Pacific
BANGLADESH - BANGLADESH WOMEN’S HEALTH COALITION (BWHC)
Sylhet division has one of the lowest contraceptive prevalence rates in Bangladesh. As a result, unwanted pregnancy is common. Although safe abortion is available in Bangladesh, geographical difficulties, poverty, lack of education and social and cultural stigma prevent women getting access. Many female tea workers and ethnic minority groups also prefer to receive abortion and other sexual and reproductive health services from traditional healers that are not always safe.
Under the SAAF project BWHC will work with these communities to raise awareness of safe abortion and contraceptive options. Improve the quality of abortion-related services provided and reduce the stigma in the community. With the overall goal of ensuring that marginalized ethnic minority girls and women tea-workers in north-eastern Bangladesh have access to safe, comprehensive, stigma-free abortion care and other sexual and reproductive health services.
INDONESIA - INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS OR INSTITUT HAK ASASI PEREMPUAN (IHAP)
IHAP has a mission to ensure the realization of women’s human rights through public education and community organizing.
As part of a youth focussed project that is already being run to strengthen young people’s awareness on sexual and reproductive rights, they intend to use the SAAF funding to support efforts to ensure access to safe abortion services for rape survivors in the East Nusa Tenggara region. They also intend to decrease abortion related stigma through the creation and support of youth networks and the creation of local working groups made up of health professionals and local government officials.
INDONESIA - SAMSARA
Contraception in Indonesia is illegal for unmarried women. Despite a taboo against pre-marital sex, many young people do have boyfriends and girlfriends and consequently unwanted pregnancy is high. Abortion is also highly restricted and most people believe it is entirely illegal.
Samsara was founded in 2008 as a hotline and website to provide accurate information on various sexual and reproductive health issues including unwanted pregnancy.
Having been supported by SAAF since 2013, Samsara hopes to continue to increase access to information for under-served women by establishing and mentoring four local hotlines in remote regions of Indonesia so that women in those areas are able to access support in their own language.
They also hope to reduce the stigma related to abortion by showcasing some of the stories of the women that they serve and educating the community on the need to change attitudes and laws that harm women and girls.
PAKISTAN - PEACE FOUNDATION
The desert district of Tharparkar in south-east Pakistan has high levels of extreme poverty. The local health department does not cover all villages, meaning that many women in the region are without access to reproductive health services. Extreme levels of gender inequality and rigid gender norms also deny women information about their rights leading to very high levels of unsafe abortion.
Abortion in Pakistan is legally allowed if it is ‘providing necessary treatment’. Peace Foundation works by providing free medical camps to women, providing contraception and reproductive healthcare including medical abortion and running a hotline that women can call to get information on sexual and reproductive health. They also set up broad-based community linkages generate discussions and debates on the risks of unsafe abortion.
PAKISTAN - SHIRKAT GAH WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTER (SHIRKAT GAH)
There are many impediments stopping women from realising their sexual and reproductive rights in Pakistan. However, by building on success from their previous SAAF funded project, Shirkat Gah are confident that they can produce results. Evidence strongly suggests that creating an enabling environment by removing stigma, sensitising stakeholders, training service providers, ensuring a confidential referral pathway, and developing local champions is central to ensuring attainability of services, reducing unsafe abortion and preventing deaths amongst women.
This project intends to scale up previous activities in three districts in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces while expanding to a further four new districts with an overall goal that they will be able to bring about sustained positive attitudinal and behavioural change towards abortion, promote women’s access to sexual and reproducitve health and rights information and services, and reduce gender inequalities that curtail women and girls’ reproductive choices.
SOLOMON ISLANDS - SOLOMON ISLANDS PLANNED PARENTHOOD ASSOCIATION (SIPPA)
The Pacific island country of the Solomon Islands experiences extremely low contraceptive prevalence use, high rates of unintended pregnancy, and widespread sexual and gender-based violence. Despite this, there is limited evidence of unsafe abortion practices in the country.
This project run by the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association will conduct research in three provinces in the country in order to understand the practices and health impacts of unsafe abortion in rural areas.
The timing of this research is particularly pertinent as the SI Penal Code is currently under review and abortion has been identified as an area for review by the Law Reform Committee. This project therefore aims to build a strong evidence base for advocacy efforts to prevent unsafe abortion, engage law and policy makers and encourage an enabling environment to discuss safe and legal abortion.