Conflict Girls Campaign
Right now there are girls and women raped during conflict. Their stories are heartbreaking. Yet they could be helped if international law was actually practiced. The Geneva Convention states that civilians hurt in conflict should be given full medical care without discrimination whatsoever. Right now this is not happening. It’s a complex issue and a short summary can’t convey all those complexities. However here is one issue that we can do something about.
Currently girls and women who are raped in conflict and become pregnant are not able to receive the full wealth of health provision. They do not receive the option of an abortion or counseling as this might mention abortion as an option. This is because in the field, funding for medical services is co-mingled and all agencies receiving monies from USAID have to sign not to mention abortion or write about it or provide it. UK published policy states that abortion should be provided if the woman wishes for it but the policy is not implemented and UK tax payers money is not spent how our UK departments state it should be spent because of these mixed funds in the field.
So a 13 year old girl gang raped and physically unable to carry to term is not offered an alternative due to the current USAID restrictions.
All the evidence shows that girls and women in conflict zones who become pregnant are traumatised in a number of ways:
1. being raped in the first place,
2. violence to themselves and family members during the rape,
3. around 60% of girls and women raped who become pregnant try to self-abort,
4. what research there is seems to indicate more girls die from complications during pregnancy or child-birth than from rape,
5. Oxfam reports show that nearly all girls and women raped in conflict who become pregnant suffer mental health problems,
6. When the child is born, the mothers are ostrasised from the family and community and become increasingly vulnerable often leading to prostitution and trafficking,
7. In East Teimor there is research to show of the security risk as a result of a generation of children growing up without fathers or families as a result of rape,
8. Various tribunals – crimes against humanity – have cited pregnancy caused through rape as an extension of the torture of rape used as a weapon of war.
Thus it is clear that the girl or woman raped who becomes pregnant should be given the option of abortion and it should be provided if she wishes for it. Other options are also possible and we can work for a society that does not suffer impunity for perpetrators and does not take the view that the shame of pregnancy after rape rests with the woman and celebrates the gift of all children. But that is not the case right now.
So what’s the solution?
The President of the US is able to issue an Executive Order lifting the ban on talking about or offering abortion to girls and women raped in conflict who become pregnant. The US was asked to do this by Norway during the Human Rights periodic review in Nov 2010. In December 2011 the President issued an Executive Order in regard to women in conflict and Secretary of State Clinton has given a speech highlighting the new projects in the Sudan where counseling and abortions may be provided. Now is a chance to do something that will positively affect so many who have already suffered so much.
This campaign aims to get as many letters as possible to President Obama asking him to issue an executive order to enable US money to be used to provide abortions for those girls and women raped in conflict who become pregnant who wish it when presented with this option.
You can help right now. You can ask your MP to sign the letter that Tom Brake MP has drafted and will be sent to President Obama this month. We need as many MPs and Peers to sign as possible. Click below for the template letter that you can change how you like and then click to send to your MP. Time is critical so please click today.