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??”


“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.


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.



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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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Let’s Talk Abortion

This blog was originally published on Shreejana’s blog- Kumari: A Feminist https://ceezana10.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/lets-talk-abortion/

There is a general logic behind the existence of human-kind in the universe. The logic is human is born to reproduce and continue its generation. Not only humans but animals also have to reproduce because of their sexual instincts. However, we now have birth control and abortion which allows us more control over when and how many babies we will have. Thanks to the advancement in technology to control our own reproduction.


I believe that every pregnancy should be wanted rather than an excuse saying it happened accidentally. Don’t you think this excuse is leading to global warming! I mean the planet Earth is already overpopulated and polluted resulting to natural disasters and unknown diseases which will definitely in the future will be a leading reason behind extinction of humans from the Earth. The main reason behind this is due to unwanted pregnancies. The best solution to control our population is to terminate pregnancies which are unwanted.

Thank God! We are in the society where we have the technology to control our own reproduction. This has provided us an advantage to control our own body and have babies when you are ready. This has helped us to have children by choice not chance.

Abortion is also an issue of personal choice. People should have access to safe and legal abortion. When we talk about abortion, we have to face various questions which are linked with social, cultural and religious sentiments. However, the people who arguing about abortion never think about a woman who has to face numerous difficulties to decide and go for termination on her own choice. Someone asked me: Who should make that choice? Her family, husband, state, friends, service providers or herself? The answer is so simple, it’s her body and she has all control on her body which is her human right, then the choice to terminating her unwanted pregnancy, ultimately, needs to be her.

Abortion is not only women’s issue. Whenever I have discussion regarding abortion, people forget that men should be also involved equally. They always rise a question “What if I (man) wanted the pregnancy? Where is my (man) saying on taking decision not to abort?”. This is really painful when people (especially men) do not understand the issue. They should empathize the situation to learn more about personal choice and freedom. I believe that reproduction is a personal right and that it is no one’s business other than the women to make that choice. People should respect and support a woman;s right to have a baby as well as her right to not have one.

Another hot issue you face while you stand for abortion is: Abortion is murder. For god sake please grow up. I am afraid there are people who will punish woman for wasting her eggs very month in the form of menstrual bleeding as eggs are important reason behind life. If we really care about life, why we are silent about Syrian war. Many children have been killed and affected by the war. Is that not murder? If you really care about the life of a fetus not the live one in Syria then please do not argue with me on abortion being murder.


The religious sentiment on abortion is its being immoral. If this is immoral than why don’t you promote family planning. Every time you can’t only object. You need to support as well. If you think abortion is immoral and it is sin then why don’t you preach about use of any form of contraception. This will help to reduce abortion. The less women get pregnant, the less abortions you have. So simple! If you do so, I rally do not have to disagree with you.


People come with the idea of adoption when I start to talk about abortion. Oh really, adoption! Is this the real solution? Forget it!! People who object to abortion they really do not care about the welfare of child after it’s born. These people take pregnancy as the punishment for woman. They are indeed sick people who do not support sex, contraception and abortion. Do you believe that we have awesome adoption law that will sort the issue of unwanted child after it’s born? If you really believe that adoption is the solution then request people to be fair and healthy without racist or sexist while adopting a child.

Abortion is not an easy choice to make. Women go through obstacles and challenges to finally choose abortion as an option to move ahead. I guess you do not want a 16 year girl to become mother before she completes her study. You do not want to be pregnancy that results from rape and incest. Also, you do not want to carry your pregnancy at the age of 50.

Therefore, respect the choice a woman makes. I just want her choice to be safe and legal. I request all to talk about abortion and preach accurate information about it. Always support women, to access safe and legal abortion rather than from back street quack doctors.


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Denial of Abortion Services in Nepal

This was originally published on Kumari: A Feminist blog of our youth Champion Shreejana https://ceezana10.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/denial-of-abortion-service-in-nepal/

In 2002, abortion was legalized in Nepal and made widely available. Abortion is permitted up to 12 weeks gestation on request and up to 18 weeks in cases of rape, incest, and health risks to the woman or fetus. Abortion services were established at most government hospitals, private hospitals, and non-governmental organization clinics. The government of Nepal has taken important steps to include abortion as a component of women’s reproductive health services, enabling nearly 800,000 women to obtain safe, legal services between 2004 and 2014. The government has recently announced that abortion services will be made available free of cost in the public facilities but this will take time to implement.

We, Nepali women are living in most privilege country where abortion is safe and legal. The government of Nepal has respected the women decision to have choices and decisions on their own body. Nepali women make their own decision to terminate their unwanted pregnancy on her own consent. However in other countries like England, Wales or Scotland a woman must ask a doctor to make that decision to her. Similarly in the country where abortion law is restricted, Government takes decision for a woman whether she could or could not terminate her pregnancy. In most cases, women are denied of abortion services. This is the violation of Human Right.

For example, Northern Ireland where women are denied of abortion. In Ireland, abortion is all but outlawed. For decades, women have traveled to England to access abortion services. You can read an article where titled: Irish woman live-tweets journey for abortion from Ireland to England. Dr. Suchitra Dalvie talks about musings on women’s right to safe abortion questioning “Is it not a modern form of slavery to force a woman to have or continue a pregnancy she does not want? Should a woman’s reproductive function take priority over her own aspirations and desires and capacity to fulfill her own highest potential?

Coming back to Nepal and the situation of denying abortion to woman. People are shocked to know when I shared them that in unrestricted environment like Nepal, women are denied of abortion services. According to our National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS-2011), only 38 percent of women are aware that abortion is legal in Nepal. In addition, their knowledge of the specific circumstances under which abortion is legal is poor. For rural Nepali women, it is difficult to identify whether they are pregnant or not. Most of the women who reach health facilities for abortion service are of high gestation which means above 12 weeks. Most of our Government certified health facilities are authorized to provide comprehensive safe abortion service till 12 weeks of gestation.

One of the leading NGO in Nepal, Centre for Research on Environment, Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) had conducted a study in 2013 which aimed to examine how often women are being denied care, reasons for denial of legal abortion, options considered after denial, sources of information about illegal abortion, experiences seeking illegal abortion and complications experienced. The study showed that denial of legal abortion is common in Nepal. It is common among women from poor family and marginalized communities. Some of the reason for denial of abortion service could be:

High gestational age is the reason for denial of abortion as service providers hesitate to go against laws and they are not competent enough to terminate pregnancy of high gestation.
Most of the government health facilities are authorized to provide safe abortion services. However, women have been denied of the service due to absence of trained and skilled service providers. Most of the time lack of continuous supply of medical abortion in health facilities is another reason for denial. This has led women to buy unauthorized drugs over the counter which has led to complications among women.


The study has also explained that denial of abortion service has forced women to continue with their pregnancies. Evidence has suggested that children fare best when they are wanted and loved. Similarly, rejection of abortion is leading women to access illegal abortion by self inducing unauthorized drugs and going for traditional methods which can result in incomplete abortion or complications.

This means even if the law is liberal, in certain condition we are forcing women to seek illegal and unsafe abortion. I believe that abortion should be accessible in any gestation age. However, the abortion procedure should be safe which does not keep women at the risk to lose their lives.

Recommendation for improving women’s access to legal care:

High impact awareness campaign on pregnancy, abortion, abortion law and services available. For example: interactive radio programs, street dramas
Reduce stigma related to abortion.
Mobilizing Female Community Health Workers or community mobilizers door to door with interpersonal communication approach to orient people about early detection of pregnancy.
Train more providers at all levels to provide abortion and to refer appropriately
Promote free helpline numbers like Meri Saathi Free Helpline no. 16600119756 or 9801119756 in community level to call to get detail information on safe abortion, procedures, laws and service centres.
Introducing mobile health application like one initiated by Marie Stopes Nepal to registered through SMS and get instruction and information on using self induced medical abortion pills.


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Never believe in everything you read!! By Youth Champion Mehala Mahilrajah


What are the media’s ethics and accountability in publishing the news or information related to sexual reproductive health? On February 14th this year, I came across a news article in online media with a headline saying
Around 9400 women are losing their virginity on 14th of February

The news has highlighted following ‘facts’ and they have mentioned that these statistics are from a ‘study’
High number of records found in the next days (15th, 16th, 17th) that women seek abortion
There is a misconception among the youth that the best gift in a relationship is having sexual relationship
Due to stress after sexual relationship most women are attempting to commit suicide and the numbers recorded is high compare to other days.

During the second week of February this news spread through all the media, especially the online and social media. Some people
shared this news as an example for criticizing women. I wrote to the media, which published the news and asking them to be responsible about what they are saying, but they never replied. When some of my friends started to take that ‘news’ as evidence, I asked them many questions to help them understand.
What is ‘losing virginity?’ and why it is pointing on women only? Doesn’t the partner also have ‘virginity’? Why is the media still carrying on with the myth of ‘virginity’?

Having sexual relationship on previous day and going for abortion the next day – people should understand that to identify the pregnancy at least one week is needed and if people come for abortion on 15th 16th 17th, they probably had sex on 8th Feb and not on 14th Feb! We can use some common sense to calculate this.
In fact in Sri Lanka 86-96% abortions are accessed by married women due to various reasons

The media says that they have done ‘research’ to get these figures. They have collected data from the hotels (how many bookings for room, medical shops for the sales of contraceptive (tools?), and abortion centers (even though in Sri Lanka abortion is restricted and there are no ‘abortion centers’.) Is it not irresponsible of the media to publish news like this?
The problem is with our society that never wants to talk openly about sexuality and sexual health issues with their children in the name of ‘culture’, but such stigma and shame is then associated with normal acts of sexual relations, especially in our culture where the girls/ women are the ones who are blamed and suffer the consequences.
Even in schools, the teachers are not ready to talk about this and they ask the students to read the textbook by themselves and understand. How will this help boys to understand that sex is not needed to prove ‘love’ and how will this help empower the girls to understand that it is their right to say NO? journalism-quotes-4

This is why Sri Lanka is leading the world in ‘sex’ searches on Google!
Media in all forms must have responsibility and accountability in publishing news in an ethical and balanced way. In the interest of creating sensational headlines they cannot behave irresponsibly and share ‘facts’ which are not evidence based.
Not everyone is capable of analyzing the news that is presented and they believe it all to be true! Thus the real issues are ignored and myths are highlighted.

The media is one of the pillars of a free world that can hold governments accountable. But who will hold the media accountable??the-less-you-know-the-more-you-believe_-bono-800x450


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