Democratic Republic of Congo: At the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence

HABYGAELLE MUZIE, Communications Advisor, Ipas

No matter the cause, humanitarian crises often mean an increase in sexual and reproductive health needs—yet access to safe abortion remains one of the most forgotten of those needs. Ipas Democratic Republic of Congo is making sure that access to abortion is included in humanitarian aid response to the devastating armed conflict in North Kivu.

North Kivu is in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area marked by extremely violent conflict. Despite all diplomatic efforts, clashes between Congolese troops and an armed rebel group have displaced thousands of people who have been forced to flee their homes to take refuge in makeshift camps. This instability has led to the complete collapse of the health system and contributed to a precarious health situation—with women, girls and children being the most affected.


Public healthcare in northern Mexico is dodging federal rules on abortion

Mexican law allows abortion for victims of rape – but state hospitals and politicians often stand in their way

Dánae Vílchez, Verónica Martínez
2 November 2023

Mexican federal regulations to provide emergency abortion services to victims of rape are being systematically flouted by state government health workers and law enforcement bodies in regions bordering the US, an investigation by openDemocracy and La Verdad de Juárez has found.

Federal regulations permit women and girls to have an abortion if they are victims of rape. But hospitals and police in northern Mexican states – where there is a growing rate of sexual violence and high prevalence of under-age pregnancy – stop abused pregnant women from taking control of their healthcare decisions, say medical sources and rights advocates.


Mexico – What Comes After Decriminalizing Abortion?

Mexico’s supreme court handed down a victory for reproductive health care. Translating it into increased access is a different story.

OCT 10, 2023

In 2019, Aurelia García Cruceño, an 18-year-old Indigenous woman living in Guerrero, Mexico, had a miscarriage. The bleeding was so intense, according to news reports, that she lost consciousness. When she woke up in a hospital bed, she noticed that her hands and feet were handcuffed. The Guerrero Prosecutor’s Office detained her for allegedly having ended her baby’s life. She hadn’t known she was pregnant.

Aurelia’s case is tragic, and it isn’t an anomaly. It demonstrates a series of interconnected failures between Mexico’s health and legal systems, which too often accept gender violence as the status quo. Time and again, these systems restrict women’s access to reproductive health care and education—and then punish them for the consequences of their lack of access, or for trying to seek it.


IRC calls for funding to avert preventable deaths of mothers and girls fleeing war in Sudan

N'djamena, Chad, June 25, 2023

Over two months after the outbreak of war in Sudan, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns of preventable maternal deaths and illnesses if funding for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services continues to be culled. Among refugees from Sudan in Chad, women and girls represent nearly nine in ten individuals, with 25% of them of reproductive age and 5% are currently pregnant.

Aleksandra Roulet-Cimpric, Country Director for the IRC in Chad, said, “Slashing both public and private funding for sexual and reproductive health over the last two years has already had devastating consequences and the situation is set to deteriorate. Funding cuts could result in up to two million unintended pregnancies globally as a result of contraceptive supply shortages.


Teenage girls turn to rat poison as unsafe abortion ‘epidemic’ spirals

Abortion is illegal in Sierra Leone, forcing women to abort unwanted pregnancies via dangerous practices. The consequences can be fatal

By Tom Collins
13 December 2022

Fanella Bola lay against the perimeter walls of a hospital in Sierra Leone and cried at the thought of going through with her pregnancy. The 17-year-old had been turned away from almost every hospital in the capital city of Freetown, where abortion is illegal. 

As she dried her tears and prepared to trudge home, the schoolgirl was approached by a market woman who said there was another way.


What a landmark ruling on abortion will mean for women in India

Oct 25, 2022
Dhwani Nagpal

A landmark ruling on abortion by India’s Supreme Court could pave the way for economic equality and reduce health inequity for women.

On September 29, 2022, the Indian Supreme Court released a judgment stating that all women, regardless of their marital status, have the right to safe and legal access to abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, single women were limited to 20 weeks.


Landmark Indian court ruling says rape includes marital rape and extends abortion rights to 24 weeks

By Manveena Suri and Jack Bantock, CNN
Thu September 29, 2022

Marital rape was defined as rape in a landmark decision by India’s Supreme Court on Thursday.

The country’s top court also stated that all women, regardless of their marital status, have the right to an abortion up until 24 weeks, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.


Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly raises abortion, sexual violence in closing UN speech

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press
Sep 26, 2022

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly urged countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence in a Monday speech to the United Nations General Assembly as the global gathering draws to a close.

Joly summarized Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign
relations. That includes being part of “a global coalition in support of
equality” that will “defend against the growing attacks on women's rights and
freedoms,” according to drafted remarks in French.


‘Unsafe abortions contributing to high maternal mortality rate in Nigeria’

By The Nation
On Aug 6, 2022

A non-profit organisation, Ipas Nigeria Health Foundation has identified unsafe abortions as one of the factors contributing high maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.

The organisation said Nigeria is confronted with high incidences of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), which sometimes results in unwanted pregnancies, leading to unsafe abortions.


USA – I am the product of rape. Here’s why I support abortion rights

by Victoria Reyes
June 12, 2022

“I wish you had never been born. I should have had an abortion.”

I can’t remember the first time my mother told me that. But I do remember the first time I responded differently, other than freezing in place or bursting into tears.