This year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign continues to highlight femicide - the urgent but hidden global crisis of the gender-related killing of women and girls.
While violence against women, and femicide in particular, is most often associated with individual acts of abuse and violence where the perpetrator is an intimate partner or sometimes a family member, not all forms of femicide are the result of interpersonal violence. Still rooted in gender inequality and misogyny, forms of femicide that are caused by laws and other societal structures are just as harmful and just as pervasive. An example of this is the denial of access to safe abortion care.
Forced pregnancies put lives at risk
Every day, lawmakers, politicians, bureaucrats, and others in positions of power make conscious decisions to deny women control over their bodies and place them in danger - constituting a form of State violence against women. 41 percent of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws – that translates into 700 million women of reproductive age deprived of their bodily autonomy. Unable to access safe and legal abortion care, women and others who can get pregnant are forced to continue pregnancies against their will or seek an abortion outside of the formal health system, sometimes at the risk of losing their lives.
While self-managed abortion using medical abortion pills has improved abortion safety for millions of women living in countries that deny legal access to care, access to these pills and information on their use is not readily available in many settings, and the use of unsafe methods is still common. Worldwide, approximately 8 million unsafe abortions are carried out using the most dangerous methods each year (think drinking bleach and inserting foreign objects into the uterus) - the majority of these take place in Africa and Asia, and disproportionality affects the poorest and most marginalised. This results in serious harm to women and girls, contributing to up to 13.2% of maternal deaths globally.