- - -
ghana

Stories

Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 23 September 2020

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Fatima, a midwife at Palestine family Planning and Protection Agency
story

| 04 April 2019

"Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law. My name is Fatima, I am a midwife and have worked with PFPPA for 18 years in the Halhul clinic in Palestine.   PFPPA has had a great impact on me personally as well as the community as a whole. I experienced violence in my marriage but when I joined the organization I learned the meaning of violence and I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and could make decisions for myself. This was a turning point in my life. My life changed 180 degrees, thank God, and my husband stopped being violent.  Society & acceptance Since I have worked here, I have seen changes in society’s acceptance of sexual and reproductive health issues and I feel that more people are supporting us. They can be women, religious personalities or young volunteers. One of the proudest moments of my work has been working with a young man who was training to be a peer educator, he was violent, especially with his sister. From the very start of the training, he was against the issues that we were presenting, however, he started to understand our issues. I also met his mother and she thanked me for the change that happened in his life. She came to say that he is now helping in the house - washing dishes and doing other tasks that he would have thought were just for women before.  The challenges that we face are a misunderstanding of religion, negative traditions and customs, as well as the political situation in Palestine with the occupation, the walls, the checkpoints as well as the economic situation. We work on issues that will take many years to witness any change due to the negative traditions and customs.  Harm reduction & abortion care We have recently started implementing a harm reduction approach to abortion care. I remember one woman who was 44 years old and divorced. She came to the clinic and was seven weeks pregnant. Her face was pale and tired...I felt that all the problems were on her shoulders. She was looking for a saviour. We supported her with harm reduction information and afterwards provided information on post-abortion contraception. After one or two months she sent a message thanking me, saying that we had saved her life, I was really happy about that.  There are also cases of women that come here, maybe they took pills or they did something that made them bleed. They don’t tell you what they did but I can detect if I think an abortion happened. If it is an incomplete abortion, we explain how to take the treatment and we follow up with support.  Unsafe methods  Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies. They drink special teas or chlorine. They jump off things or ask their children to jump on them. They sometimes put suppositories made from Arabic medicinal herbs into the cervix. Although it is common, deaths are not registered as linked to unsafe abortion but are probably registered as maternal deaths.  When the society says that abortion is haram (forbidden), they don’t take into consideration the issues and these women in need. Imagine if we had safe abortion services at the hospitals, we would not see these issues at all. There are women who would choose abortion for reasons like their age, their health, social issues and psychological issues. There are women themselves who say “I will die if I complete this pregnancy”. I am passionate about the work that I do. I advocate for these issues everywhere I go, on the bus, during weddings and with friends and family, wherever I go. That is why the Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) funded project is so important. I have learned a lot about advocacy and campaigning, how we manage legal advocacy and how to work with decision-makers. We have run events to mark International Safe Abortion Day with groups of women gathered here in the centre and with decision-makers and volunteers. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Fatima, a midwife at Palestine family Planning and Protection Agency
story

| 24 May 2022

"Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law. My name is Fatima, I am a midwife and have worked with PFPPA for 18 years in the Halhul clinic in Palestine.   PFPPA has had a great impact on me personally as well as the community as a whole. I experienced violence in my marriage but when I joined the organization I learned the meaning of violence and I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and could make decisions for myself. This was a turning point in my life. My life changed 180 degrees, thank God, and my husband stopped being violent.  Society & acceptance Since I have worked here, I have seen changes in society’s acceptance of sexual and reproductive health issues and I feel that more people are supporting us. They can be women, religious personalities or young volunteers. One of the proudest moments of my work has been working with a young man who was training to be a peer educator, he was violent, especially with his sister. From the very start of the training, he was against the issues that we were presenting, however, he started to understand our issues. I also met his mother and she thanked me for the change that happened in his life. She came to say that he is now helping in the house - washing dishes and doing other tasks that he would have thought were just for women before.  The challenges that we face are a misunderstanding of religion, negative traditions and customs, as well as the political situation in Palestine with the occupation, the walls, the checkpoints as well as the economic situation. We work on issues that will take many years to witness any change due to the negative traditions and customs.  Harm reduction & abortion care We have recently started implementing a harm reduction approach to abortion care. I remember one woman who was 44 years old and divorced. She came to the clinic and was seven weeks pregnant. Her face was pale and tired...I felt that all the problems were on her shoulders. She was looking for a saviour. We supported her with harm reduction information and afterwards provided information on post-abortion contraception. After one or two months she sent a message thanking me, saying that we had saved her life, I was really happy about that.  There are also cases of women that come here, maybe they took pills or they did something that made them bleed. They don’t tell you what they did but I can detect if I think an abortion happened. If it is an incomplete abortion, we explain how to take the treatment and we follow up with support.  Unsafe methods  Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies. They drink special teas or chlorine. They jump off things or ask their children to jump on them. They sometimes put suppositories made from Arabic medicinal herbs into the cervix. Although it is common, deaths are not registered as linked to unsafe abortion but are probably registered as maternal deaths.  When the society says that abortion is haram (forbidden), they don’t take into consideration the issues and these women in need. Imagine if we had safe abortion services at the hospitals, we would not see these issues at all. There are women who would choose abortion for reasons like their age, their health, social issues and psychological issues. There are women themselves who say “I will die if I complete this pregnancy”. I am passionate about the work that I do. I advocate for these issues everywhere I go, on the bus, during weddings and with friends and family, wherever I go. That is why the Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) funded project is so important. I have learned a lot about advocacy and campaigning, how we manage legal advocacy and how to work with decision-makers. We have run events to mark International Safe Abortion Day with groups of women gathered here in the centre and with decision-makers and volunteers. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Amani is a 24 year old midwife and volunteer peer educator with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.
story

| 03 April 2019

"The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Amani and I am 24 years old. I live with my parents in Bethlehem in the West Bank and I work as a midwife in a family hospital in Jerusalem as well as a peer education volunteer with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.  Working in schools Part of my role as a volunteer involves going to schools and doing presentations about early-marriage, family planning and gender-based violence. Even though sex outside of marriage is taboo, it does happen. However, it is very hard for unmarried people to access contraception as the culture is so restrictive, especially here in Hebron. When they need contraception, the man usually goes by himself or they look online.  When we go to schools and talk to students about the subject of sexual health, the students want to know more because at home it is a taboo to talk about such things. We get many questions about issues such as masturbation or what causes pregnancy. They just know that it happens when men and women are together, they do not know how it happens. So people may ask a question like: ‘if I touch somebody, if I stand near someone or kiss them will I get pregnant?’ Abortion is still a taboo The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo. I do know that unsafe abortion happens though, for example my grandmother tried to end her pregnancy once. She was forty-five years old and had six children already. She did not know any way of not getting pregnant or safely ending the pregnancy. She told me that she drank liquids and jumped from the stairs, taking a great risk. She really didn’t want to be pregnant again and tried hard to end it but it did not work.  I am very proud that as a peer educator I have expanded my knowledge on many issues, including how to provide harm reduction information to women so that they can reduce risks of unsafe abortion and not do what my grandmother did in case they don’t want to be pregnant.   Once I met with a woman who already had six children, she was tired of having children but her husband wanted to have more so we visited them at home and through conversation, the husband understood the need, so she was able to access an IUD. Here we work a lot with women, we change them, we speak with them, they change their opinions, they become decision-makers and they leave the clinic as different people.  Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Amani is a 24 year old midwife and volunteer peer educator with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.
story

| 24 May 2022

"The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Amani and I am 24 years old. I live with my parents in Bethlehem in the West Bank and I work as a midwife in a family hospital in Jerusalem as well as a peer education volunteer with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.  Working in schools Part of my role as a volunteer involves going to schools and doing presentations about early-marriage, family planning and gender-based violence. Even though sex outside of marriage is taboo, it does happen. However, it is very hard for unmarried people to access contraception as the culture is so restrictive, especially here in Hebron. When they need contraception, the man usually goes by himself or they look online.  When we go to schools and talk to students about the subject of sexual health, the students want to know more because at home it is a taboo to talk about such things. We get many questions about issues such as masturbation or what causes pregnancy. They just know that it happens when men and women are together, they do not know how it happens. So people may ask a question like: ‘if I touch somebody, if I stand near someone or kiss them will I get pregnant?’ Abortion is still a taboo The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo. I do know that unsafe abortion happens though, for example my grandmother tried to end her pregnancy once. She was forty-five years old and had six children already. She did not know any way of not getting pregnant or safely ending the pregnancy. She told me that she drank liquids and jumped from the stairs, taking a great risk. She really didn’t want to be pregnant again and tried hard to end it but it did not work.  I am very proud that as a peer educator I have expanded my knowledge on many issues, including how to provide harm reduction information to women so that they can reduce risks of unsafe abortion and not do what my grandmother did in case they don’t want to be pregnant.   Once I met with a woman who already had six children, she was tired of having children but her husband wanted to have more so we visited them at home and through conversation, the husband understood the need, so she was able to access an IUD. Here we work a lot with women, we change them, we speak with them, they change their opinions, they become decision-makers and they leave the clinic as different people.  Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

A woman who received abortion services in Palestine
story

| 02 April 2019

"From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Khawla*, I am 42 years old and I am a midwife and university lecturer. I have been married for 10 years and have three children, two boys and a girl. I have multiple health issues and a number of hereditary conditions in my family. I first became involved with PFPPA through my work, having taken many trainings with them about issues such as early marriage, gender-based violence, sexual health and safe abortion. Then last year I accidentally became pregnant myself. My youngest child was just two years old, I had a new job at the time and was suffering with a number of health issues that would make another pregnancy dangerous for me.  Unintended pregnancy When I read that the pregnancy test was positive, it was a very hard time. I started crying – I felt like the world was very black – it was the end of my life. I would kill myself, if I didn’t end this pregnancy. So I came to PFPPA and they treated me as a client. I met with the social worker, midwife and doctor and, since the pregnancy was risk to my life and I was very weak and bleeding when I reached them they were able to prescribe the tablets. These pills are highly regulated and restricted here and not all pharmacists stock them but I was able to access them with the prescription and they worked. PFPPA provided follow up afterwards helping me to find an effective long-acting family planning method. Even though I knew about the different methods, they discussed them all with me to ensure that they would be appropriate for my health.  Even though the law allows abortion in cases of risks to health of the woman, you need to get permission from the religious leaders and they are very hard to convince. I took my case to them and, despite my health issues, they refused despite it being very early in the pregnancy, before the ensoulment and is allowed according to Islam. The public hospital will not perform it unless they receive the permission from the religious leaders and they don’t give it despite what the religious rules say.  Stigma & access From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard. There are many women who get pregnant who did not plan it and it’s not the time for the pregnancy. The door is closed to them from the public health system. I have started to campaign on this issue now, I talk to the students in my course about how we can solve this problem. I think the stigma is very difficult. I never thought I would be in this situation, I talked a lot about it before but when you are in the situation, it is totally different.  I really appreciated the help given from the PFPPA team, particularly the psychological support. When I felt bad, they helped me to see that I was doing the right thing and it was my right. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine *Not her real name

A woman who received abortion services in Palestine
story

| 24 May 2022

"From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Khawla*, I am 42 years old and I am a midwife and university lecturer. I have been married for 10 years and have three children, two boys and a girl. I have multiple health issues and a number of hereditary conditions in my family. I first became involved with PFPPA through my work, having taken many trainings with them about issues such as early marriage, gender-based violence, sexual health and safe abortion. Then last year I accidentally became pregnant myself. My youngest child was just two years old, I had a new job at the time and was suffering with a number of health issues that would make another pregnancy dangerous for me.  Unintended pregnancy When I read that the pregnancy test was positive, it was a very hard time. I started crying – I felt like the world was very black – it was the end of my life. I would kill myself, if I didn’t end this pregnancy. So I came to PFPPA and they treated me as a client. I met with the social worker, midwife and doctor and, since the pregnancy was risk to my life and I was very weak and bleeding when I reached them they were able to prescribe the tablets. These pills are highly regulated and restricted here and not all pharmacists stock them but I was able to access them with the prescription and they worked. PFPPA provided follow up afterwards helping me to find an effective long-acting family planning method. Even though I knew about the different methods, they discussed them all with me to ensure that they would be appropriate for my health.  Even though the law allows abortion in cases of risks to health of the woman, you need to get permission from the religious leaders and they are very hard to convince. I took my case to them and, despite my health issues, they refused despite it being very early in the pregnancy, before the ensoulment and is allowed according to Islam. The public hospital will not perform it unless they receive the permission from the religious leaders and they don’t give it despite what the religious rules say.  Stigma & access From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard. There are many women who get pregnant who did not plan it and it’s not the time for the pregnancy. The door is closed to them from the public health system. I have started to campaign on this issue now, I talk to the students in my course about how we can solve this problem. I think the stigma is very difficult. I never thought I would be in this situation, I talked a lot about it before but when you are in the situation, it is totally different.  I really appreciated the help given from the PFPPA team, particularly the psychological support. When I felt bad, they helped me to see that I was doing the right thing and it was my right. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine *Not her real name

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 03 May 2016

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 24 May 2022

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 23 September 2020

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Healthcare worker with combipack.
story

| 24 May 2022

In pictures: Innovating during COVID-19

Women around the world have faced multiple barriers to accessing safe abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic including the de-prioritization of sexual and reproductive healthcare, overwhelmed health systems and restrictions on movement. The COVID-19 crisis has sparked innovation among IPPF Member Associations who responded swiftly by developing new approaches to reach women with safe abortion care including telemedicine and home-based provision of medical abortion. Strong evidence generated from this work supports the continuation and strengthening of these approaches beyond the end of the pandemic. Cameroon Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW) To ensure that quality abortion care can be provided to women during travel restrictions, CAMNAFAW’s service providers travel to partner clinics in underserved areas and to clients’ homes to provide medical and surgical abortion care. This model of taking safe abortion care closer to women will continue even with easing of travel restrictions, as this has been found to be an effective and acceptable approach to increasing access.Photo: IPPF/Xaume Olleros/Cameroon Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Guinea Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial (AGBEF) Building on lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Guinea, AGBEF quickly took measures to prevent infection in its clinics to continue providing sexual and reproductive healthcare, including surgical and medical abortion, in a safe environment. AGBEF donated protective materials to communities, including hand-washing stations, face masks and antibacterial gel, alongside messaging on infection prevention. This community visibility reassures clients they can safely attend AGBEF clinics for abortion and contraceptive care.Photo: AGBEF/Guinea Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email India Family Planning Association of India (FPA India) FPA India and partners advocated to have sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion, recognized as essential by the government, which meant FPA India could continue healthcare delivery during the national lockdown. To reduce in-person clinic visits, FPA India established teleconsultation and counselling for abortion care, and is continuing to provide in-clinic care for both medical and surgical abortion. Photo: IPPF/Alison Joyce/India Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Nepal Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) FPAN and partners advocated for interim approval of home provision of medical abortion and telemedicine for abortion counselling during COVID-19. FPAN is now implementing these approaches, ensuring continued access to abortion care in Nepal, where many people live in remote locations with limited mobility, which has been further restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Photo: FPAN/Nepal Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Pakistan Rahnuma – Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Rahnuma-FPAP) Rahnuma-FPAP and partners successfully advocated for the government to class sexual and reproductive healthcare as ‘essential’, which enabled the team to continue providing post-abortion care during the pandemic. Rahnuma-FPAP expanded its telemedicine and home-based provision for menstrual regulation counselling and post-abortion care. These new approaches have ensured continued access to services for clients unable to reach clinics.Photo: Rahnuma-FPAP/Pakistan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Palestine Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) In response to the government-mandated closure of its clinics, PFPPA quickly established a toll-free call centre which provides consultations, counselling, referrals and follow-up, including consultation for abortion care through a harm reduction approach, ensuring that women are provided with accurate information. Due to its success, PFPPA is exploring options for continuing this healthcare delivery model beyond the pandemic, with the aim of keeping it free of charge for users.Photo: SAAF/Samar Hazboun/Palestine Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Sudan Sudan Family Planning Association (SFPA) Following a nation-wide shutdown in April, SFPA  established  a call centre to increase access to healthcare, including abortion and contraceptive counselling and referrals.  An unexpected outcome of the new call centre is that it has reached an increased number of young women who regularly call to discuss their reproductive health and rights. SFPA  is working  towards institutionalizing this model for continuation beyond the pandemic.Photo: SFPA/Sudan Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Togo Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial (ATBEF) ATBEF adapted its mobile application ‘Infos Ado Jeunes’, adding a toll-free teleconsultation service for young clients to use to access abortion consultations and pre- and post-abortion counselling. This app has given young clients ongoing access to care when they face challenges travelling to clinics. It has also eased overall client flow in clinics at a time when social distancing is being implemented.Photo: ATBEF/Togo Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

Fatima, a midwife at Palestine family Planning and Protection Agency
story

| 04 April 2019

"Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law. My name is Fatima, I am a midwife and have worked with PFPPA for 18 years in the Halhul clinic in Palestine.   PFPPA has had a great impact on me personally as well as the community as a whole. I experienced violence in my marriage but when I joined the organization I learned the meaning of violence and I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and could make decisions for myself. This was a turning point in my life. My life changed 180 degrees, thank God, and my husband stopped being violent.  Society & acceptance Since I have worked here, I have seen changes in society’s acceptance of sexual and reproductive health issues and I feel that more people are supporting us. They can be women, religious personalities or young volunteers. One of the proudest moments of my work has been working with a young man who was training to be a peer educator, he was violent, especially with his sister. From the very start of the training, he was against the issues that we were presenting, however, he started to understand our issues. I also met his mother and she thanked me for the change that happened in his life. She came to say that he is now helping in the house - washing dishes and doing other tasks that he would have thought were just for women before.  The challenges that we face are a misunderstanding of religion, negative traditions and customs, as well as the political situation in Palestine with the occupation, the walls, the checkpoints as well as the economic situation. We work on issues that will take many years to witness any change due to the negative traditions and customs.  Harm reduction & abortion care We have recently started implementing a harm reduction approach to abortion care. I remember one woman who was 44 years old and divorced. She came to the clinic and was seven weeks pregnant. Her face was pale and tired...I felt that all the problems were on her shoulders. She was looking for a saviour. We supported her with harm reduction information and afterwards provided information on post-abortion contraception. After one or two months she sent a message thanking me, saying that we had saved her life, I was really happy about that.  There are also cases of women that come here, maybe they took pills or they did something that made them bleed. They don’t tell you what they did but I can detect if I think an abortion happened. If it is an incomplete abortion, we explain how to take the treatment and we follow up with support.  Unsafe methods  Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies. They drink special teas or chlorine. They jump off things or ask their children to jump on them. They sometimes put suppositories made from Arabic medicinal herbs into the cervix. Although it is common, deaths are not registered as linked to unsafe abortion but are probably registered as maternal deaths.  When the society says that abortion is haram (forbidden), they don’t take into consideration the issues and these women in need. Imagine if we had safe abortion services at the hospitals, we would not see these issues at all. There are women who would choose abortion for reasons like their age, their health, social issues and psychological issues. There are women themselves who say “I will die if I complete this pregnancy”. I am passionate about the work that I do. I advocate for these issues everywhere I go, on the bus, during weddings and with friends and family, wherever I go. That is why the Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) funded project is so important. I have learned a lot about advocacy and campaigning, how we manage legal advocacy and how to work with decision-makers. We have run events to mark International Safe Abortion Day with groups of women gathered here in the centre and with decision-makers and volunteers. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Fatima, a midwife at Palestine family Planning and Protection Agency
story

| 24 May 2022

"Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law. My name is Fatima, I am a midwife and have worked with PFPPA for 18 years in the Halhul clinic in Palestine.   PFPPA has had a great impact on me personally as well as the community as a whole. I experienced violence in my marriage but when I joined the organization I learned the meaning of violence and I realized that I didn’t have to put up with it and could make decisions for myself. This was a turning point in my life. My life changed 180 degrees, thank God, and my husband stopped being violent.  Society & acceptance Since I have worked here, I have seen changes in society’s acceptance of sexual and reproductive health issues and I feel that more people are supporting us. They can be women, religious personalities or young volunteers. One of the proudest moments of my work has been working with a young man who was training to be a peer educator, he was violent, especially with his sister. From the very start of the training, he was against the issues that we were presenting, however, he started to understand our issues. I also met his mother and she thanked me for the change that happened in his life. She came to say that he is now helping in the house - washing dishes and doing other tasks that he would have thought were just for women before.  The challenges that we face are a misunderstanding of religion, negative traditions and customs, as well as the political situation in Palestine with the occupation, the walls, the checkpoints as well as the economic situation. We work on issues that will take many years to witness any change due to the negative traditions and customs.  Harm reduction & abortion care We have recently started implementing a harm reduction approach to abortion care. I remember one woman who was 44 years old and divorced. She came to the clinic and was seven weeks pregnant. Her face was pale and tired...I felt that all the problems were on her shoulders. She was looking for a saviour. We supported her with harm reduction information and afterwards provided information on post-abortion contraception. After one or two months she sent a message thanking me, saying that we had saved her life, I was really happy about that.  There are also cases of women that come here, maybe they took pills or they did something that made them bleed. They don’t tell you what they did but I can detect if I think an abortion happened. If it is an incomplete abortion, we explain how to take the treatment and we follow up with support.  Unsafe methods  Women in our communities use many unsafe methods to try to end pregnancies. They drink special teas or chlorine. They jump off things or ask their children to jump on them. They sometimes put suppositories made from Arabic medicinal herbs into the cervix. Although it is common, deaths are not registered as linked to unsafe abortion but are probably registered as maternal deaths.  When the society says that abortion is haram (forbidden), they don’t take into consideration the issues and these women in need. Imagine if we had safe abortion services at the hospitals, we would not see these issues at all. There are women who would choose abortion for reasons like their age, their health, social issues and psychological issues. There are women themselves who say “I will die if I complete this pregnancy”. I am passionate about the work that I do. I advocate for these issues everywhere I go, on the bus, during weddings and with friends and family, wherever I go. That is why the Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) funded project is so important. I have learned a lot about advocacy and campaigning, how we manage legal advocacy and how to work with decision-makers. We have run events to mark International Safe Abortion Day with groups of women gathered here in the centre and with decision-makers and volunteers. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Amani is a 24 year old midwife and volunteer peer educator with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.
story

| 03 April 2019

"The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Amani and I am 24 years old. I live with my parents in Bethlehem in the West Bank and I work as a midwife in a family hospital in Jerusalem as well as a peer education volunteer with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.  Working in schools Part of my role as a volunteer involves going to schools and doing presentations about early-marriage, family planning and gender-based violence. Even though sex outside of marriage is taboo, it does happen. However, it is very hard for unmarried people to access contraception as the culture is so restrictive, especially here in Hebron. When they need contraception, the man usually goes by himself or they look online.  When we go to schools and talk to students about the subject of sexual health, the students want to know more because at home it is a taboo to talk about such things. We get many questions about issues such as masturbation or what causes pregnancy. They just know that it happens when men and women are together, they do not know how it happens. So people may ask a question like: ‘if I touch somebody, if I stand near someone or kiss them will I get pregnant?’ Abortion is still a taboo The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo. I do know that unsafe abortion happens though, for example my grandmother tried to end her pregnancy once. She was forty-five years old and had six children already. She did not know any way of not getting pregnant or safely ending the pregnancy. She told me that she drank liquids and jumped from the stairs, taking a great risk. She really didn’t want to be pregnant again and tried hard to end it but it did not work.  I am very proud that as a peer educator I have expanded my knowledge on many issues, including how to provide harm reduction information to women so that they can reduce risks of unsafe abortion and not do what my grandmother did in case they don’t want to be pregnant.   Once I met with a woman who already had six children, she was tired of having children but her husband wanted to have more so we visited them at home and through conversation, the husband understood the need, so she was able to access an IUD. Here we work a lot with women, we change them, we speak with them, they change their opinions, they become decision-makers and they leave the clinic as different people.  Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

Amani is a 24 year old midwife and volunteer peer educator with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.
story

| 24 May 2022

"The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Amani and I am 24 years old. I live with my parents in Bethlehem in the West Bank and I work as a midwife in a family hospital in Jerusalem as well as a peer education volunteer with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency.  Working in schools Part of my role as a volunteer involves going to schools and doing presentations about early-marriage, family planning and gender-based violence. Even though sex outside of marriage is taboo, it does happen. However, it is very hard for unmarried people to access contraception as the culture is so restrictive, especially here in Hebron. When they need contraception, the man usually goes by himself or they look online.  When we go to schools and talk to students about the subject of sexual health, the students want to know more because at home it is a taboo to talk about such things. We get many questions about issues such as masturbation or what causes pregnancy. They just know that it happens when men and women are together, they do not know how it happens. So people may ask a question like: ‘if I touch somebody, if I stand near someone or kiss them will I get pregnant?’ Abortion is still a taboo The students don’t normally ask about abortion as it is such a taboo. I do know that unsafe abortion happens though, for example my grandmother tried to end her pregnancy once. She was forty-five years old and had six children already. She did not know any way of not getting pregnant or safely ending the pregnancy. She told me that she drank liquids and jumped from the stairs, taking a great risk. She really didn’t want to be pregnant again and tried hard to end it but it did not work.  I am very proud that as a peer educator I have expanded my knowledge on many issues, including how to provide harm reduction information to women so that they can reduce risks of unsafe abortion and not do what my grandmother did in case they don’t want to be pregnant.   Once I met with a woman who already had six children, she was tired of having children but her husband wanted to have more so we visited them at home and through conversation, the husband understood the need, so she was able to access an IUD. Here we work a lot with women, we change them, we speak with them, they change their opinions, they become decision-makers and they leave the clinic as different people.  Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine

A woman who received abortion services in Palestine
story

| 02 April 2019

"From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Khawla*, I am 42 years old and I am a midwife and university lecturer. I have been married for 10 years and have three children, two boys and a girl. I have multiple health issues and a number of hereditary conditions in my family. I first became involved with PFPPA through my work, having taken many trainings with them about issues such as early marriage, gender-based violence, sexual health and safe abortion. Then last year I accidentally became pregnant myself. My youngest child was just two years old, I had a new job at the time and was suffering with a number of health issues that would make another pregnancy dangerous for me.  Unintended pregnancy When I read that the pregnancy test was positive, it was a very hard time. I started crying – I felt like the world was very black – it was the end of my life. I would kill myself, if I didn’t end this pregnancy. So I came to PFPPA and they treated me as a client. I met with the social worker, midwife and doctor and, since the pregnancy was risk to my life and I was very weak and bleeding when I reached them they were able to prescribe the tablets. These pills are highly regulated and restricted here and not all pharmacists stock them but I was able to access them with the prescription and they worked. PFPPA provided follow up afterwards helping me to find an effective long-acting family planning method. Even though I knew about the different methods, they discussed them all with me to ensure that they would be appropriate for my health.  Even though the law allows abortion in cases of risks to health of the woman, you need to get permission from the religious leaders and they are very hard to convince. I took my case to them and, despite my health issues, they refused despite it being very early in the pregnancy, before the ensoulment and is allowed according to Islam. The public hospital will not perform it unless they receive the permission from the religious leaders and they don’t give it despite what the religious rules say.  Stigma & access From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard. There are many women who get pregnant who did not plan it and it’s not the time for the pregnancy. The door is closed to them from the public health system. I have started to campaign on this issue now, I talk to the students in my course about how we can solve this problem. I think the stigma is very difficult. I never thought I would be in this situation, I talked a lot about it before but when you are in the situation, it is totally different.  I really appreciated the help given from the PFPPA team, particularly the psychological support. When I felt bad, they helped me to see that I was doing the right thing and it was my right. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine *Not her real name

A woman who received abortion services in Palestine
story

| 24 May 2022

"From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard"

Women and girls in Palestine face a number of difficulties and challenges. The ongoing conflict and lack of sitting government as well as high unemployment, has led to poverty and inequality, while an increasingly conservative society and traditionally patriarchal culture has led to increased gender-inequality and lack of access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. The current abortion law unfairly pushes women to risk their lives and health to attempt to end their unwanted pregnancies in unsafe ways. In this context, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Agency (PFPPA) has been working since 1964, to provide sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocate for women’s rights. Having received two grants from Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) since 2014, they have been working on the lack of access to safe abortion in the country with a focus on increasing their provision of abortion-related services and advocating at community and national level for changes to the abortion law.  My name is Khawla*, I am 42 years old and I am a midwife and university lecturer. I have been married for 10 years and have three children, two boys and a girl. I have multiple health issues and a number of hereditary conditions in my family. I first became involved with PFPPA through my work, having taken many trainings with them about issues such as early marriage, gender-based violence, sexual health and safe abortion. Then last year I accidentally became pregnant myself. My youngest child was just two years old, I had a new job at the time and was suffering with a number of health issues that would make another pregnancy dangerous for me.  Unintended pregnancy When I read that the pregnancy test was positive, it was a very hard time. I started crying – I felt like the world was very black – it was the end of my life. I would kill myself, if I didn’t end this pregnancy. So I came to PFPPA and they treated me as a client. I met with the social worker, midwife and doctor and, since the pregnancy was risk to my life and I was very weak and bleeding when I reached them they were able to prescribe the tablets. These pills are highly regulated and restricted here and not all pharmacists stock them but I was able to access them with the prescription and they worked. PFPPA provided follow up afterwards helping me to find an effective long-acting family planning method. Even though I knew about the different methods, they discussed them all with me to ensure that they would be appropriate for my health.  Even though the law allows abortion in cases of risks to health of the woman, you need to get permission from the religious leaders and they are very hard to convince. I took my case to them and, despite my health issues, they refused despite it being very early in the pregnancy, before the ensoulment and is allowed according to Islam. The public hospital will not perform it unless they receive the permission from the religious leaders and they don’t give it despite what the religious rules say.  Stigma & access From my experience the situation in relation to abortion in Palestine is very hard. There are many women who get pregnant who did not plan it and it’s not the time for the pregnancy. The door is closed to them from the public health system. I have started to campaign on this issue now, I talk to the students in my course about how we can solve this problem. I think the stigma is very difficult. I never thought I would be in this situation, I talked a lot about it before but when you are in the situation, it is totally different.  I really appreciated the help given from the PFPPA team, particularly the psychological support. When I felt bad, they helped me to see that I was doing the right thing and it was my right. Read more stories from SAAF in Palestine *Not her real name

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 03 May 2016

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 24 May 2022

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.