10 November 2012 5:39 pm | | 9


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ATFD

Access to state-provided abortion services has worsened since the Tunisian Revolution, according to the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD).

During a round table held yesterday at the headquarters of the association in Tunis, representatives of both the ATFD and the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) addressed the theme of “the right to abortion and access to abortion services in post-revolution Tunisia.”

Public hospitals and family planning centers have provided abortion services in Tunisia since 1973, when abortion up until the fourth month of pregnancy was legalized.  But residents of some regions in the country, especially in the South and the North West, have complained that abortion services have not been available since the Revolution.

“After the Revolution, some officials decided to stop providing abortion services … Many women cannot afford to go to private clinics,” said Emna Hsairi, coordinator of the sexual and reproductive commission at the ATFD. “We are taking steps backward … This is harming women’s health.”

A reduction in public abortion services is most harmful to the poor, given the higher costs of private clinics, Hsairi said.

She said state-provided abortion services help prevent incidents such as killing or abandoning newborn babies.

“The law was made to prevent such cases,” she added.

The round table is a part of an international campaign entitled “One Day, One Struggle.” The campaign is an annual event, co-organized by the CSBR, in which one of 15 countries chooses a different theme every year. The 15 countries consist of states from the Middle East, north Africa and Asia.

 

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Comments (9)

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  1. Greta says:

    Tunisia must continue its policy of investing in contraception and educating Tunisian women on the benefits of prevention and family planning. This is the best way to reduce the numbers of abortions. These associations really do valuable work and the politics of one group or another should not be an issue here.

  2. exult49 says:

    FREEDOM !Individual rights?Equal opportunities?Or you prefer the complementary role assigned to women in the new fundamentalist constution?Tunisia risks a future of deprivation …..

  3. nessryne says:

    It is unfortunate that the article states newborn killing or abandon as a justification to access abortion while the real rationale behind securing access to safe-abortion for women was the clear understanding that abortion have always existed and always will, whether legal or illegal. Tunisia chose to put a legal framework to it since the choice was: Secure legal and safe abortion or have women abort in clandestine settings that endanger their lives (especially for the poorest amongst them who do it at home taking toxic substances/undergoing dangerous procedures); the wealthier women can always go to private clinics (and even when illegal as it is the case in Egypt, doctors would register it as miscarriage but that would cost a lot).

    That being said, Tunisia have done a lot in terms of family planning and birth spacing education and services !! There are still, however, unmet needs in family planning for women who are in reproductive age. You can check WHO and UNFPA’s latest reports on that.

    As for the 2nd comment about ATFD being bourgeois; that organization, fyi, has the only centre in Tunisia, sheltering and providing legal support for women suffering from domestic violence and violence against women; and that, to my opinion, is one of the best grassroot initiatives in Tunisian civil society.

    A national dialogue on sexuality education, access to family planning and abortion based on evidence, women’s needs and public health concerns would be indeed welcome; A national dialogue imposed by politicians will not help.

    • angela says:

      @nessrryne….Thank you for your post. i wish those interviewed had poke as eloquently as you did. Yes the goal is to prevent women form being in that circumstance through many different routes. Abortion should be recognized as always being there as a threat to women’s health, mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.

      Excellent that Tunisia has places like ATFD because many countries do not, In the US for example support to/for women’s rights would have disappeared if the other contestant had been successful. It would seem however that the government (Tunisia) have somewhat hijacked that provision through doctors and hospitals etc (as the article suggests).

      I wish the people of Tunisia the every best of luck, and I hope the women continue to get support through whatever safe means of funding.

    • zollat says:

      “real rationale behind securing access to safe-abortion for women was the clear understanding that abortion have always existed and always will, whether legal or illegal.”….That rationale is illogical. Homicides, robberies and other crimes have always existed and will always exist, yet they will never be legal. That’s like asking for a legal framework for someone to go rob someone since it has always existed!

      We need to have a national debate on this issue. The first line of defense is to avoid unwanted pregnancies. But from an ethical point of view, aborting a baby is reprehensible. Being “unwanted” is a despicable reason for terminating a future newborn. The simplest, easiest and most ethical answer for this problem is to give “unwanted babies” for adoption to the many couples who cannot conceive.

      As for the ATFD, i stand by my comment. Even though they provide a shelter for battered women (an initiative that is commendable), they have a tendency to be selective in their agendas.

      The biggest problem that faces women in Tunisia is the lack of awareness of their rights combined with a situation of precarity especially in rural areas. Women are left with tasks that include caring for kids, bringing water from kms far away wells, cooking, tending to animals…only to find lazy husbands unwilling to help.

      In urban areas, the biggest issue is the lack of coherent and protective labor laws in specific female intensive industries, like the textile industry. These women basically work in chicken factories in slave like conditions from 6/7 am to 4 pm. They are yelled at and dehumanized for 300 DT or less.

      Those are the main and most urgent issues. I have never seen the ATFD but yelling and yapping on TV about splitting inheritance 50/50.

  4. angela says:

    She said state-provided abortion services help prevent incidents such as killing or abandoning newborn babies.

    What does abortion do…tickle their feet…..stupid article….nothing about education, abstinence, contraception….legs shut.

    • Ardo says:

      ei naam!! Kill the baby inside the womb rather than outside?!! Is this the best we can come up with! Not a lot of hope for Tunisia’s future if this is the best rationale! Tickle them baby to death! Agreed it is a stupid article displaying no sanctity for life. A baby is still a baby at 1,2,3,4,5,13, months!
      Some women are deceived it seems.

  5. zollat says:

    There has never a national discussion about abortion in Tunisia. Both dictatorships, the Bourguiba regime and the Ben Ali regime legalized abortion without any national debate.
    Abortion should be discussed calmly and carefully, it should also be treated in a debate that encompasses sexuality, relationship between man and women, extra-marital sexual relations etc…
    As for the “Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD)” I wouldn’t pay attention to anything they publicize, declare or organize. This is a bourgeois organization that caters to the needs of a group of well-off women that are disconnected from the tough reality of a lot of women, especially in rural areas in Tunisia.
    They watch French TV stations then pop up the next morning feeling bad because their reality isn’t in France!!!

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