Rohingya refugee women need comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care—including safe abortion services.
Addressing unsafe abortion is essential to protect women’s health and fulfill principles of human rights, social justice, and gender equality.
Ottawa, Canada. 24 September, 2018: Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and Ipas, an international reproductive health organization based in the U.S., will highlight the crisis Rohingya women face and the critical need for reproductive health care through the Canadian launch of a photo exhibit at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, on September 27.
Over 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since November 2017. There have been horrific accounts of rape and abuse of Rohingya women and girls in Myanmar and thousands arrived at the makeshift refugee camps homeless, frightened and pregnant.
These refugees have acute reproductive health needs—and services are often nonexistent in emergency settings. Ipas has been working to improve access to reproductive health services; training paramedics, midwives and doctors to provide abortion— legally known as menstrual regulation in Bangladesh— postabortion care and contraceptives across 30+ facilities to refugee Rohingya women in Bangladesh.
The photo exhibit highlights these women’s experiences and the need for nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian actors, governments and donors to step up efforts to ensure that reproductive health services are integrated into humanitarian response programs.
“All women and girls living in an emergency setting should be able to access comprehensive reproductive health services, including safe abortion. The absence of safe abortion care in refugee settings discriminates against women and exposes them to a risk that men will never experience — the risk of an unsafe abortion, which kills 45,000 women each year and injures millions more,” says Dr. Anu Kumar, President and CEO of Ipas.
Access to abortion is a recognized component of the right to health in international human rights law. Failing to provide women and adolescent girls, including survivors of sexual violence and young women and girls, with access to a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services denies them their human rights.
“Given the global push-back on, and stigmatization of, sexual and reproductive rights, Canada is well positioned to step in and fill critical gaps in funding, specifically for abortion. In Canada and around the world, no person should be denied their right to safe abortion care,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “Women in crisis settings face tremendous obstacles to managing their reproductive lives. Adolescents and youth, and those in other vulnerable circumstances, including conflict and post-conflict settings, suffer the greatest harms. Addressing unsafe abortion is essential to protect their health and fulfill principles of human rights, social justice, and gender equality.”
The Rohingya photo exhibition will take place on September 27, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the National Arts Centre, in Ottawa. To RSVP, please visit archive.actioncanadashr.org/rohingya-women-photo-exhibit
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