Denying access to sexual health services has fatal consequences for women in Indonesia

A new Amnesty report launched in Jakarta on Thursday 4 November details the fatal consequences of denying access to sexual health services for women in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.

Left Without a Choice describes how government restrictions and discriminatory traditions threaten the lives of many Indonesian women and girls by putting reproductive health services out of their reach.

Amnesty International’s research shows discriminatory practices and problematic laws are prohibiting access to contraception for unmarried women and girls, and endorsing marriage for girls younger than 16. The law requires a woman to get her husband’s consent to access certain contraception methods, or an abortion even in the event that her life is at risk. Amnesty International also found that health workers frequently deny the full range of legally available contraceptive services to unmarried women and also to childless married women.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“Restrictions on sexual and reproductive rights are placing severe and potentially deadly obstacles in the way many women and girls can access reproductive health information and services.

“Indonesia must do more to ensure that old stereotypes and mindsets are replaced with a more forward-looking recognition of the problems and needs facing their wives, sisters and daughters.”

Interviews with Indonesian women and girls, as well as health workers, highlighted how restrictions increase unwanted pregnancies and force many women and girls to marry young, drop out of school, or seek an illegal abortion. An estimated two million abortions are performed in Indonesia every year, many of them in unsafe conditions.

Key statisitcs:

Indonesia’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is amongst the highest in the East-Asia Pacific region.

At 228 per 100,000 live births, Indonesia’s MMR is overall at least four times higher than in neighbouring countries, such as China (56), Malaysia (41) and Thailand (44).

According to official government figures, unsafe abortions are responsible for between five and 11 per cent of maternal deaths in Indonesia.

A woman or girl seeking an abortion (the legal age for criminal responsibility in Indonesia is eight), or a health worker providing one, may be sentenced to up to four and 10 years’ imprisonment respectively

Domestic violence in Indonesia is a serious problem. In 2010, Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence against Women reported a 263 per cent increase in the number of reported cases (143,586 cases) of violence against women compared with the previous year (54,425 cases).

Part of a longer article at http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=19068

See also: Abortion is about balancing rights – religious medics don’t get the final say
The religious rights of a small group of medical professionals do not trump those held by the remainder of the citizenry



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