Don’t have sex if you have a disability?!

anam

Girls, boys, men, women living with disabilities have sexual desires just like anyone else! But their sexual and reproductive health and rights are often disregarded by society and overlooked by policymakers. It is assumed that they are somehow asexual. Women with disabilities have to bear a double burden of marginalization due to their gender.

And just as ‘women’ are a heterogenous group, so are ‘disabilities’. The multiple layers of vulnerabilities that exist within the community also need to be recognized.

Of the 7 billion humans on this planet, nearly 1 billion live with some disability. [1]Of these, 80% live in developing countries- 19% of women and 12% of men. People with a disability face many obstacles in their physical and social environments that prevent then from fully excising their rights and participating in social, cultural and professional life as well as fulfilling their true potential.

Women with disabilities may not be able to access the services they need for a number of reasons including lack of awareness, stigma, discrimination, physical barriers, lack of information, providers attitude, lack of services at public sector etc. Women and girls with disabilities are at higher risk of sexual abuse and violence, as they may be physically or financially dependent on their abuser.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for an inclusive approach and underscores the need for including persons with disabilities at all stages of decision- making, policy planning and implementation.

In order to invest in the capacity building of young leaders from within their community who can advocate for such rights, the National Forum for Women With Disabilities (NFFWDs), Pakistan and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) partnered to initiate and launch a project.

This will not just educate WWDs about safe abortion, reproductive rights and healthy sex life but also train them to become peer educators for the disabled and non-disabled women in their community.

– See more at: http://asap-asia.org/blog/3111/#sthash.w2ovphEQ.dpuf

Watch Video here: https://youtu.be/PTFUERGrlv0

 

Reference:

http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf

 

 

[1] [1] http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf

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The Best and Worst of 2016

2016 has been a pivotal year for reproductive rights for reasons both good and bad………..and as we bid adieu to this rollercoaster ride of a year let us pause and reflect on all that we have achieved and start looking forward to the year that will be.

The Best of 2016

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1. Polish abortion law protesters march against proposed restrictions
Woman power rocked Poland when one of the biggest marches in history took place on Black Friday. Protesters took to streets across Poland to oppose the proposal to ban abortions in almost all circumstances.

2. The Year Abortion Was Destigmatized On TV
Four shows debuted which normalized, and even had humorous abortion plotlines in 2016, making it a landmark year. Black Horseman, Jane the Virgin, You’re the Worst, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend all featured abortions that were not framed as tragic endings, but rather as hopeful beginnings

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3. Abortion drone Ireland: Abortion pills everywhere!
On June 21st an Abortion Drone flew from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland at Narrow Waters Castle. After the drone landed safely two women took the pills. At the same time Women on Waves employed a RC speedboat to send over more pills for the women. Making abortion illegal will not keep women from accessing abortion pills, by ship, by mail, through the internet, drone or RC speedboat!

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4. Let’s Talk About Abortion
ASAP launched a month long Film festival commemorating Sept 28th. The overall objective was to create awareness around the issue of abortion access and stigma in general and to give space to voices of youth from Asia in particular. The intention was to increase the visibility and encourage dialogue on women’s bodily autonomy and rights. Watch the film here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8i2qvGrtIU

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5. Abortion is on the Agenda at Women Deliver: ‘Elephant in the Room’
The “Women Deliver” conference, a major recurring global gathering on reproductive and sexual health, has been criticized in the past for tiptoeing around the issue of abortion. Not so this year. At the conference this year, organizers are included a session called “The Elephant in the Room: What About Abortion?”

Before we set to welcome 2016 here’s what went really wrong and why we should be prepared for challenging times ahead. These are issues affecting not just abortion but shows a closing of spaces for dissent and diversity and an increased intolerance of a different voice. This environment makes it even more difficult and challenging to speak up for a woman’s right to take decisions over her own body.

The Worst of 2016
1. Abortion is ‘murder,’ says Turkey’s PM
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he considered abortion as “murder.” “I am a prime minister who is against Caesarean births. I consider abortion as murder,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.

2. Qandeel Baloch, a self- proclaimed feminist from Pakistan is killed by her own brother. She was bold, she was out there and she challenged society’s hypocrisy. In one of her last posts, Qandeel said: “As women we must stand up for ourselves. As women we must stand up for justice. I believe I am a modern day feminist… I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM.” http://images.dawn.com/news/1175827

3. After a long struggle to regulate surrogacy in India, the government passed a law which is unfortunate in that it reinforces the need for others to decide what a woman should or should not do with her body! It justifies more control rather than less, it denies parenthood to single persons, gay and lesbians. http://feminisminindia.com/2016/08/31/critical-analysis-surrogacy-regulation-bill-2016/

4. Bangladesh has become a dangerous place for anyone who dares to cross an invisible line set by Islamic extremists intent on silencing dissenting voices with knives and guns. In the last two years, at least eight atheists and gay rights campaigners have been killed in attacks in the majority Muslim country. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/28/opinions/bangladeshi-bloggers-opinion/

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5. And now for the big one. The Olympian sexist milestone that was created by the media, where women athletes, winners all, were denigrated, insulted and generally considered as inferior to all the men, even when they were breaking world records for both sexes! Here is a compilation of almost every reported sexist incident. Brace yourself and read on: http://fusion.net/story/338501/sexism-olympics-rio-simone-biles/

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Abortion myths: findings of an online survey

A myth is a widely held but false idea or belief. Abortion myths hurt women and often obscure important facts related to abortion. They further lead to deepening the stigma around abortion. This unscientific and deceptive misinformation greatly deters provision of and access to safe and legal abortion services.

In order to gauge the presence of some common abortion myths among netizens and their perceptions about abortion, we (ASAP) conducted a small online survey. A questionnaire with 10 abortion myth statements was created using Google forms. The survey was launched on 31st July 2016 and was closed on 3rd September 2016. The link of the survey was promoted through Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) webpage, ASAP’s social media profiles and in personal networks of few of our youth champions. It yielded 257 responses. Weighted scoring of ‘2’, ‘1’ and ‘0’ was done for ‘False’, ‘Don’t know’ and ‘True’ response respectively to each of the myth statements and a total score was calculated for each respondent. So, the score could vary from 0 to 20.

Participation was purely voluntary and there was higher proportion of females (77.8%) over males (22.2%) and majority (77.8%) were Indians. Mean score of females (15.02) was higher than males (11.65) and of atheists (16.9) higher than those with any religion individually or even combined together (13.23). Mean score increased with the increase of educational level of the respondents that gives cues better education and information may help in removing the prevalent myths.

The myths of ‘mandatory parental consent in case of teenage abortion’ and ‘contraception eliminates the need of abortion’ were the most prevailing while ‘abortion is only done due to gender biased sex selection to eliminate the unwanted female foetus’ was the least existing. Only 8.5% of the respondents could identify all the statements as myths. The myth of ‘Abortion is illegal in India’ was considered true by 22% of the Indian respondents and this is the scenario even after 45 years of legalization of safe abortion in India.

Responses to the open-ended question of ‘Thoughts on abortion’ were analysed and categorized into three overarching stances: ‘supportive’, ‘conditional’, and ‘opposing’. Those who believed abortion as right of a woman were labelled ‘supportive’; those who considered abortion provision under selected conditions were labelled ‘conditional’ and those who were against abortion were labelled ‘opposing’. Both the proportion and mean score of each category were in descending order, which hums a positive story.
The survey reiterated the pervasiveness of abortion related myths. Though many had positive attitude towards abortion, myths still prevailed largely. All these were in spite of the inherent limitation of ‘self-selection’ bias in this study. Thus, there is a pressing need to spread evidence based abortion related awareness in order to thwart the perpetuating myths around this important public health as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights issue. We believe with concerted efforts this can be made possible.

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But what can I do about it?

We conduct workshops and meetings with young people and doctors and medical students and so many other groups and discuss issues around safe abortion, unsafe abortion, stigma, gender power and patriarchy and sexism.
Sometimes the participants feel overwhelmed by these issues. They say these are such entrenched social and cultural issues and they seem to be so complex and tangled and they ask “But what Can I do??”

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“I am just one person and I have very little influence and power.”
“I am only a student, how can I oppose the system?”
“I am only a nurse, how can I challenge patriarchy in medicine?”

Dr Martin Luther King had said the greatest tragedy is the silence of good men. And women.
So, paradoxically, the easiest thing to do and sometimes the most difficult thing to do is simply to just SPEAK UP.
When any one of us speaks up, it amplifies the voices of all women. When any one of us opposes a sexist and offensive post on a Whatsapp group, it will make 10 others think twice before they share it on. When any one of us offers a sensitive hearing to a girl or a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy and help her obtain a safe abortion, we could save a life. When any one of us posts a strong gender sensitive, safe abortion supportive message on social media, it can get a few people thinking about things differently.
When all of us move into public forums, whether offline like the women in Poland on Black Monday, or online like a Tweet-a-thon, we can make all those in power sit up and pay attention.

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We can create a critical mass of people who are aware of the issues and understand the gender discrimination and rights violations are issues that are impacting women and girls every day, in every aspect of their lives. We can ensure that abortion is always spoken of and understood as an integral part of a woman’s life.
Together we can create a movement. Together we can make a difference. We can aim to create an equal and just society where women have control over their body and life.
And it all starts with each one of us.

rumi

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#LetsTalkAbortion

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Films and media are a very integral part of human life nowadays and acts as a prism through which we view the larger world around us. It effectively portrays the society we live in and also historically, the society we lived through. To a relatively unquestioning and unsuspecting person, whatever is shared in the media is quite believable and contributes in shaping one’s own understanding and perceptions around the issue, event, person etc. Thus, it is a potent and time-tested tool for mass reach out. Now, if this tool is loaded with positive and unbiased content, it is definitely good but what if it isn’t? I guess it’s not a great revelation.

Among a plethora of suppressed, distorted or goofed up issues, here I choose to talk about abortion. Though a pretty common life experience of women (a good look at authentic research statistics and narratives will back it up), its depiction in films and other forms of media is either in a veil of utter silence or shown mostly in a bad light. A simple search on ‘YouTube’, one of the most popular video sharing platforms, with the word ‘abortion’ will conjure up a mind-boggling variety of mostly ‘anti-choice’ content often with graphic images, which can misinform or repulse the audience. A clear example of how patriarchal systems gags the real facts, stories and experiences of women.

What we need is an affirmative and real depiction of experiences of women’s sufferings when services were illegal, unavailable and/or inaccessible. And conversations about liberating and satisfying experiences when proper services were received.
The hush around the issue of abortion in day-to-day open conversation is both a nasty cause and a perilous effect, which work, in a vicious cycle to reinforce abortion stigma. Indeed slowly scenario is changing and even the UN has declared, ‘denial of abortion is a violation of human rights’. But still we need to cover a lot of ground to establish the truth of ‘normal’, ‘common’, ‘women’s right’. One-way is to share and also create new ‘pro-choice’ media content bringing the issue to limelight. With this aim, ASAP has initiated a virtual film festival, which is showcasing some short films, and video clips which speak about abortion issues for women and girls in Asia. This 28th September, the global day of action for access to safe and legal abortion, let us pledge to work towards ending abortion related stigma and building pro-choice rights based discourse around abortion. Let’s Talk About Abortion!

Watch trailer here- #LetsTalkAbortion

To know how you can contribute to the campaign download the toolkit!

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