Today it’s the International Safe Abortion Day, and I wish it was not necessary to have such a day in the calendar, because safe abortion should be granted to every single woman in need of one. With that said, I hope putting focus on this will be for the good.
While progression has been made in some countries over the past few years, like in New Zealand, South-Korea, Argentina, Ecuador, Thailand and Ireland, other countries have taken a step backwards.
In Texas a new law, making abortion an act of crime, has been passed. Even if President Biden has promised to protect the clinics, this is a horrible development in one of the world’s most developed countries.
Religious and archaic cultural views should not dictate women’s right to control their own bodies and reproductive health. In line with the same outdated views, comes the lack of sexual education, education on reproductive health in general, and not the least, the lack of access to contraceptives.
On top of that, we can add a general lack of respect for women, and the fact that it’s the women who are punished to breaking the law by getting an abortion, while the perpetrator gets away unpunished.
The result of all this are tens of thousands of unsafe abortions every year. Women die during or after these procedures, approximately 22 000 every year! A lot more suffer from long term complications, and many are never able to get pregnant and have a child later.
This is not acceptable, it never was, and it certainly should not be acceptable in 2021!
We cannot keep silent about this. We have to keep fighting until every woman on this planet has the right, and the access to safe abortion and safe post-abortion care.
It’s been six weeks since Taliban took Kabul, in a swipe that surprised everybody, including American intelligence. The international soldiers, diplomats and others rushed out of the country. Yes, I know, President Biden had said that American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan within September 1st. But the plan, I assume, was not to hand the country over to Taliban.
Well, that is what happened, and now I wonder what will happen next. We do have some indications already. Women have disappeared from the streets, and those who are to be seen have put back the burqa. Female police officers are killed by the Taliban. Single women are forced to give up custody of the children to their in-laws. Women-only households are at even higher risk of being forced into marriage with Taliban soldiers. In many places girls’ schools are already closed, women are denied showing up at their workplace.
Activists, journalists and former soldiers are hunted down. The Taliban goes door-to-door to find them, and those who can hide or flee.
The UN estimates that 500 000 people will flee to the neighbouring countries before the end of the year. Worst case scenario they call it. I am, frankly speaking, surprised the estimation is not much higher. We are talking about a population of 38 million people.
The UN also says that 14 million people are at risk of starving to death. Normal people don’t have money. A lot have lost their jobs. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund has frozen the aid that has been flowing into the country for years. The World Bank states this is because they are worried about Taliban’s treatment of women. But who do they think a lack in health services and food shortage will harm first and foremost?
The army, the police force and all other people trained by the NATO troops, fled at the sight of Taliban troops. Was their training that bad? Or their moral that low?
The elected president and his government fled as well while they had the chance. Did they think that NATO would be present indefinitely to protect them? I ask, because I suspect that they were more interested in enriching themselves than actually govern and rebuilding the country.
I am worried about the situation, especially the situation for all the Afghan women and children. At least during the last 20 years, the literacy rate went up. A lot of girls got an education. Now it seems for nothing.
After hunting down Taliban and Osama bin Laden (who turned out to be hiding in Pakistan), there was a lot of shifting motives to keep NATO present in Afghanistan. Building a democracy, building schools, working for women’s rights, and the previously mentioned training of police and army.
I never felt it very honest, the reasons to stay on. At the same time, it seemed better for the Afghan population to keep the Taliban at bay. At least, the day all the troops left, we got the truth; the Americans didn’t stay on in Afghanistan for 20 years to rebuild the country or fight for human rights and women’s rights. They stayed “to keep America safe”.
Now, it seems to me that the world gives a damn about what is going to happen next. Statements like “we are worried about the situation” doesn’t seem very reassuring. I fear that as soon as the cameras are off and the journalists have left the room, world leaders let Afghanistan fall to the bottom of the to-do list.