JUBA, 14 November 2012 (IRIN) - Cut off from development by five decades of civil war, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and high levels of infant mortality and morbidity. Large families struggle to get by in the war-ravaged new nation.
« Je ne peux pas consulter un gynécologue, car j'aurai des problèmes avec mon mari », dit Aicha. Comme elle, beaucoup de femmes musulmanes n'ont pas la permission de se faire soigner par un homme, c'est défendu. Dans un pays qui ne compte que trois gynécologues de sexe féminin, l'accès aux spécialistes, pour les musulmanes, est restreint.
"Child marriage is a human rights abuse. It constitutes a grave threat to young girls’ lives, health and future prospects. Marriage for girls can lead to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and in developing countries these are the main causes of death among 15–19 year-old girls. For a girl, marriage can mean the end of her education, can set aside her chances of a vocation or career, and can steal from her foundational life choices.
Investing in girls, developing their social and economic assets, ensuring they have access to education and health services, and ensuring that they can postpone marriage until they are ready; all this means greater dignity for women. It also means healthier families and higher levels of gender equality. This in turn makes for stronger societies and more vibrant economies.
Investment in later marriage for girls is investment in development for everyone."
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The practice of men marrying underage girls - which has been an accepted social norm for centuries but has been linked in recent years to the spread of HIV - was recently declared illegal in Swaziland.
When rape is used as a weapon of war in places like Congo or Bosnia, thousands of women and girls can become pregnant, but a piece of 39-year-old U.S. legislation means that few if any aid groups are allowed to provide or even discuss abortion services with them.
There's a 38 year-old Congolese woman named Josephine who has probably never heard of U.S. Representative and Senatorial candidate Todd Akin. But, if she had, Josephine would know all too well how wrong Akin was when he said that a woman's body can "shut the whole thing down" and prevent a pregnancy if she experiences a "legitimate rape." When Josephine was 29, she, like many of the estimated 1.8 million other women and girls who were raped during the Congo's series of conflicts, became pregnant. Akin's comments will never affect Josephine, so she has little reason to care. But she cares very much about the U.S. legislative efforts to restrict abortion access, because that decades-long campaign, of which Akin is only an example, has changed her life permanently.
Bella is 34 years old. Without her knowledge or consent, she became the victim of forced sterilisation at the age of 12 when her parents took her to hospital for what they told her was an operation to have her appendix removed. Nine years later, during a routine pelvic examination, Bella was told it was her uterus, not her appendix that had been removed.Thirteen years on from her discovery, Bella’s grief and anger are still raw.
Activists have welcomed a ban on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the new constitution of Somalia – a country where 96 percent of women undergo one of the more extreme forms of the practice – but warn that translating the law into action will require more than just a legal declaration.
Pursuant to a month of heated discussions, Turkish government stated that they will not amend the existing laws on abortion in Turkey and restricted their changes to the subject of making caesar sections more difficult to implement. Social media whirled about a few days, press immediately forgot about the issue, but the snake never slept.
Nine Ivorian women aged 46 to 91 years were convicted of female genital mutilation and complicity of female circumcision, at Katiola, a town 400 km from Abidjan. In February they had excised thirty girls in a ritual ceremony. At the end of this first trial for excision, they got a one-year sentence and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (75 Euros). However, these women will not serve their prison sentences because of their age, according to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
WLUML has joined numerous rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights, DAWN, the International Women's Health Coalition and RESURJ in supporting the following statement "Rights must be at the centre of the Family Planning Summit", to be presented to the organizers of the DFID/Gates Family Planning Summit which will be held in London on 11 July 2012.