Tag Archive | "illegal"

Cuba: Old Weaponry Found in Sugar Cargo Headed for North Korea

Panama Canal (photo:wikipedia)

Panama Canal (photo:wikipedia)

A freighter transporting over 10,000 tonnes of sugar from Cuba to North Korea was held in Panama Canal, after some 240 metric tonnes of defensive weaponry were discovered hidden on board. The bizarre find has sparked a wave of speculation that Cuba and North Korea are involved in a covert bilateral weapon exchange.

In a statement issued last night, Cuban Foreign Minister confirmed the weapons found were “obsolete”, and were being sent to North Korea to be repaired and returned as payment in kind for the sugar. Discovered secreted in bags labelled ‘Cuba raw Sugar’ were two anti-aircraft missile complexes, nine missiles parts and spares, two MiG-21b fighter planes, and 15 MiG engines.

In 2003, Cuba and North Korea set up a protocol for scientific and technological cooperation, intimating an exchange of goods, so trading between the two countries is not unusual. However, the freight, named Chong Chon Gang, aroused suspicion when it disappeared from the satellite tracking system as it travelled through the Panama Canal, with some theorists suspecting the ship of deliberating turning off its AIS Automatic responder to evade detection.

It is not only the illicit method of transporting these weapons that has sparked controversy. This incident is a move that may also contravene United Nations law which has a strict ban on arms trading with North Korea following on-going disputes over their nuclear programme.

The ship was stopped on 12th July, and the 35 crew members on board were arrested after resisting orders from Panama Canal authorities. They have now been moved to Fort Sherman, a former US Army Base on the northern tip of the country, to be questioned. The UN Security Council are also set to join forces with Panamanian Security Minister José Raúl Mulino to inspect all five containers discovered, a process which will continue into next week.

The incident also comes at a pivotal time for Cuban-US diplomatic ties, with relations only recently beginning to thaw between the two nations. Yet if it is confirmed that Cuba has involved in an illegal weapons trade with North Korea, especially passing through the Panama Canal, tensions could flare up again.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

El Salvador: Court Requests More Time To Consider “Urgent” Abortion Case

(Photo: Beatrice Murch)

(Photo: Beatrice Murch)

A pregnant Salvadoran, whose life is at risk due to her unborn baby, may not be able to abort due to the country’s ban on therapeutic abortion.

Doctors have told 21-year-old Name Beatriz, who is 23 weeks pregnant, that her life is in danger because she is suffering from Lupus, an autoimmune disease. Her child has also been diagnosed with anencephaly, a cephalic disorder, and experts have said it is likely to die shortly after birth.

Abortion is prohibited under all circumstance in El Salvador meaning that if her child is aborted, Beatriz and those responsible will be prosecuted and could be jailed for up to 50 years. Beatriz first requested an abortion in March but two days ago the Salvadoran High Court released a statement saying that they needed an additional 15 days to review the suit.

The case has sparked strong controversy in the mostly Roman Catholic countries of Central America. The Catholic and Evangelical Church have suggested that the case is promoting abortion in a bid to make it legal.

“It is important to act urgently in accordance with what medical science has established. We have made the recommendation that aborting the pregnancy is a justified act,” said attorney Georgina de Villalta, who is defending the rights of the unborn child.

Beatriz, who lives in Jiquilisco, a rural area of El Salvador, also has a one-year-old child who experienced a premature birth, at seven months, and was subsequently kept in the hospital’s intensive care unit for 38 days.

Lawyer Dennis Muñoz, of the Agrupación Ciudadana para la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico de El Salvador, has made a request to the country’s Supreme Court that they pass an injunction allowing the doctors to induce labour.

The case is currently being debated by the court’s Constitutional Chamber who has asked for the opinions of the Attorney-General’s Office, the Ministry of Health, and human rights leaders. The government’s Health Ministry has said it supports Beatriz’s request for an abortion on health grounds.

Human Rights groups have also called on President Maurico Funes with a letter urging him to ensure that the woman be allowed to abort her child without facing criminal charges

“President Funes should take immediate steps to allow Beatriz to terminate this pregnancy, which puts her life at serious risk,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. Beatriz is said to be in a fragile condition. “She is pretty bad,” said her mother, Delmy, who is by her bedside.

The case continues.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Colombia: Seven Arrested for Illegal Mining on Venezuelan Border

Guainía, Colombia (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Guainía, Colombia (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

María Ángela Holguín, Colombia’s Foreign Minister, reported on Thursday that the country is to propose a bi-national commission with Venezuela in order to fight illegal mining on the borders between the two countries. The plans come after several Colombian citizens were caught carrying out illegal mining practices in Venezuelan territory.

The Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela caught the illegal miners last Tuesday, who are reported to have come from the Colombian Department of Guainía. The Colombian authorities are investigating what happened, but insisted that the issue of illegal mining on the border is a serious issue.

The consul of Venezuela in Puerto Inirida, Guanía’s capital, Asdrubal Blanco, said that the detainees are six indigenous men and a native of Villavicencio, Colombia. They were allegedly engaged in the exploitation of gold at the time of their arrest before being transferred between the two countries in two speedboats.

The arrested Colombians have already been put before a public prosecutor in the city of Puerto Ayacucho, in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas. He also both country’s governments will be working in coordination when handling the case of those arrested.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Brazil: Illegal Gold Mining in Amazon Targeted

Brazil- Police are targeting illegal gold mining in the Yonamami indigenous reserve, close by the Brazil’s Venezuelan border.

Brazilian police have arrested at least 26 people involved in the illegal gold mining taking place in the region.  Gold, mining equipment, and several aircraft were also seized in the area.

The Yanomami had been speaking out against invading miners for some time now, but police had yet to act until this recent series of arrests.

Brazilian police announced that the miners were causing grave environmental damage and identified five criminal groups involved.  These actions are the result of a year-long investigation in Roraima state, according to the Federal Police.

The environmental impact was worsened by the use of highly-toxic mercury to separate gold from the river silt, the clandestine nature of the mining contributing to the use of more detrimental practices.

The reserve is home to around 20,000 Yanomami, who live in isolation over an enormous area – spanning nearly 100,000 square km.

The soaring price of gold on world markets has driven a surge in unlicensed gold-mining into many parts of the Amazon, threatening its delicate ecosystem and the many indigenous groups claiming residence there.


Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Bolivia: President Urges End of Coca Leaf Ban

With coca leaves in hand, Bolivian President Evo Morales once again asked the UN to reconsider its ban on the chewing of the Bolivian staple.

During a speech in Vienna, the president called for the UN anti-drug commission to accept Bolivia’s campaign to legalise coca leaf cultivation for chewing and traditional uses, calling its entry into the banned substances list a “historical error.”

“The producers of coca leaves are not narco-traffickers; the consumers are not addicts,” he said.

Coca leaves were declared an illegal substance in a 1961 UN convention.

“We hope that this assembly and presidents understand our request to recognise the legal consumption of coca leaf, especially for medical purposes and for food,” Morales said.

Yuri Fedotov, head of UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said the organisation’s member states have until early next year to reach an agreement or reject Morales’ campaign.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Black Market Sales Increase

The sale of illegal goods sold on the street has jumped to $8 million a day, according to a study by The Argentine Confederation of Medium Enterprises (CAME).

The number of sales grew 16% since September. Jobs have also increased in this field gaining about 1,000 people a month. In total, there are 7,400 people working in this field throughout the city.

According to the study, conducted between 17th and 24th of October, the total turnover for illegal sales is projected at over $216 million. The most popular street for vendors is Avellaneda and clothing items account for the majority of illegal sales.

Osvaldo Cornide, the director of CAME said, “It is a shame that these illegal sales are carried out with such impunity. Mafias earn a lot of money every day across the city and the country”.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Honduras: Wikileaks Reveal US Documents Saying Coup Illegal

The Wikileaks website has published more than 250,000 secret documents from US embassies, including analysis of the overthrow of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya Rosales in June 2009.

In the text, the US ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, says: “The removal of Zelaya by military forces was clearly illegal.”

Llorens sent the document to the United States in July 2009, one month after the coup d’état took place in the country.

He said: “The military, the supreme court and the national congress conspired on 28th June in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the executive.

“There is no doubt that Roberto Micheletti’s accession to power was illegitimate but having consulted various experts on Honduras law, it cannot be said that Zelaya has violated any law or that he will attempt to stay in power through constitutional reform, as stated by the authors of the coup,” he said.

Zelaya said: “The United States should answer for their involvement in the coup; letting events unfold although they knew the coup was illegal.”

He also said that the Obama administration endorsed the celebration of “fraudulent” elections under the auspices of the Micheletti regime which granted victory to the current president, Porfirio Lobo.  

Zelaya said that the leaked documents are enough to condemn the United States in front of the International Criminal Court (CPI).

Story courtesy of Agencia Pulsar, a news agency run by AMARC-ALC network of community radios.

Posted in Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Seeking Safer Solutions: Abortion Rights

Maternity Ward, Hospital Alvarez, Buenos Aires (Photo: Ethan G. Salwen)

The Argentine Ministry of Health this year estimated that 40% of pregnancies in Argentina end in abortion. A sensitive and divisive subject in a country where abortions continue to be illegal (except under specific circumstances of rape or health issues) women are thus seeking abortions in unsanitary conditions.

Continually putting themselves in a dangerous position in order to terminate unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality is over twice as high as neighbouring countries Chile and Uruguay, at 44 deaths per 100,000 live births. The appalling statistics continue, as last years official figures recorded that 20% of these deaths were due to obstetric emergencies and complications following illegal abortions. Argentina thus faces a grave truth: the risks of an unsafe abortion are often seen as a better option than to continue with an unwanted pregnancy.

The Root of the Problem

With such a high rate of unwanted pregnancies, reproductive health education appears to not be working successfully. Women’s Rights Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Marianne Mollmann, suggests that many women are evidently not in a position to make and implement informed decisions about their reproductive health before pregnany. “When 40% of women become pregnant in circumstances too dire that they believe it is a better idea to butcher themselves than to carry the pregnancy to term, something has gone very wrong,” she states.

Despite a history of objections from Catholic groups and popular abstinence-only promotion as a form of birth control, a new sex education dialogue began to be cultivated under the former government. In 2006 sexual health education became mandatory in all public education institutions. This policy, however, has done little to affect unwanted pregnancy levels. As recently as August 2010, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) called again for Argentina to provide comprehensive sex education, as government efforts continue to be perceived as virtually non-existent.

Contraception availability is another point of contention as women face several hurdles in attempts to access free birth control. Complaints of unauthorised charges for contraceptive pills or of legal sterilisation being refused are just some of the issues that affect women’s decisions about contraceptive use.

With the aim to freely distribute birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies, 2003 saw the launch of a national Sexual Health and Responsible Parenthood Program. Although this policy put reproductive health issues higher on the political agenda, it has been widely criticised for it’s ineffectiveness due to administrative problems. Accounts of supply delays of contraceptive pills lasting for several months are frequent. As such, the National Health Ministry has been accused of not responding to the country’s contraceptive needs.

Women queueing in the maternity ward, Hospital Alvarez (Photo: Ethan G. Salwen)

To illustrate this common obstacle, Mollmann recounts how doctors in provincial areas have to ration provisions by denying contraception to younger women, saving the pills for women with more children. In this way, “the woman’s decisions regarding her health become secondary.”

According to Paula Ferro, the director of the health ministry’s National Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation programme, these distribution obstacles mean that it is not possible to “advance the program in other ways.”

Ambiguous Laws

Previous Health Minister, Ginés González García, prioritised the issue of reproductive health care by publishing a guide for legal abortion services and post-abortion care. However, what few laws and guidelines currently in place to provide access to legal abortions are frequently unknown, or else erratically enforced.

The most recent example of this occurred in July when current Health Minister, Juan Manzur, denied signing a document that would have legalised abortion to all cases of rape as opposed to just those involving victims with disabilities. This guide had been distributed to doctors nationwide, and following the error and confusion surrounding the document’s legitimacy, the exact laws regarding non-punishable abortions are still ambiguous.

When contacting different medical service providers in Buenos Aires city, HRW discovered that each provider defines legal abortion in a different way, a clear sign that the system is failing. Legal processes have thus earned a negative reputation as doctors are under the false impression that they have to wait for a court decision to perform services that could be legally provided without delay.

Mollmann attributes the lack of awareness of legal procedures as a key barrier to legal abortion access, and thus a contributing factor to illegal abortions. “Even when doctors are aware that abortion may be provided to a woman whose life or health is endangered by the pregnancy or who has been raped,” she says, “they are not entirely certain about the procedures to follow.”

As a result, women and girls often find themselves in an impossible situation, unable to depend on the state for reproductive health care to which they are legally entitled. Referring to these problems Mollmann suggests that the government has a responsibility “to destigmatise abortion that is already legal.”

Inefficient Processes

Many of the official governmental policies and legal systems regarding medical providers are not successfully implemented. The current National Health Ministry has been criticised for its lack of oversight and haphazard data collection. Without having all the information, the ministry cannot possibly know if their programs are effective, or even if they are being implemented correctly.

An interdisciplinary committee was established to oversee decisions made by individual doctors, to provide stricter guidelines. However, HRW found that only 1/30 public health centres in the city of Buenos Aires fulfil this requirement.

Women marching for abortion rignts ( Photo courtesy of Agrupación de Mujeres Pan y Rosas)

Marta Alanis, president of Córdoba based partner group Catholics for Choice (Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir), considers such obstacles to stem from entrenched ideological beliefs. As she told the Inter Press Service (IPS), “many officials are letting their religious beliefs guide their government and legislative actions”.

Lengthy legal processes further contribute to a growing lack of faith in national reproductive health services. Earlier this year a teenage girl from the Southern Chubut province was raped by her stepfather. Seeking a legal abortion, the case was processed by a judge for 40 days before being passed on to the hospital. After a further ten day wait for the response to her plea, the teenager reached the twentieth week of her pregnancy, too advanced for the termination to take place.

Seeking Solutions

Recent years have seen a dip in maternal mortality figures, statistics that have been attributed to the increased use of misprostol in home abortions, a drug prescribed to prevent ulcers. For those women typically forced to accept an unsafe abortion – the resource-poor who do not have the money or means to access safer abortions abroad – this drug has been discovered to be a suitable alternative, and is currently perceived as a safer form of illegal abortion.

Aborto Con Pastillas Book Cover (Photo: Shooresh Fezoni)

In response to the systematic failures of legal abortion procedures and government policies, the organisation Lesbians and Feminists for the Decriminalisation of Abortion (LFPDA) continue to provide information to women about their rights. Following on from the abortion information hot line the LFPDA helped to establish over a year ago, the organisation published a book last month called ‘All That You Need to Know About How to Give Yourself an Abortion With Pills’.

With its garish front cover and explicit title, the book could be perceived as encouraging the practise of home abortions. In contrast, however, the book acts as a guide to inform women about a safer alternative to illegal and unhygienic abortion providers. Providing an accessible, in depth, and intimate account of the traumas and processes of home abortions, the book documents the process of abortion from beginning to end. Complete with diagrams and comic-esq illustrations, the book accounts for every possibility, discussing each worst-case scenario in graphic detail and the physical stress an abortion can cause.

According to Verónica Marsano, member of the LFPDA, the book seeks to help women regain a control over their own lives by providing the information they are legally entitled to, but often cannot obtain. “To know how, where, and when, is to have control of that process,” she states.

As well as a comprehensive health care manual, Marsano refers to the book as “a tool for self-organisation and liberation”: “We hope that the partners of social movements, political parties, and student movements, take this information and join us [in our work].” The organisation is working from the bottom-up, sees what is lacking on the government level, and fills in where necessary.

As well as providing information for women, the book has another motive of different proportions: to shape future political debate/thinking on the issue. “Policies on abortion have not previously existed on the agenda of a government or ministry in any serious manner,” Marzano says. “We believe that following the appearance of action and discourse that has begun to change”.

Turning the Tide

According to the Centre for Reproductive and Sexual Health (OSSyR), a local organisation supported by the United Nations, the Argentine government has the means to successfully address reproductive health issues. However, for maternal mortality rates to drop and for sexual health progress to be made, it is imperative that the political will change.

Following the recent gay marriage bill passed in congress last July there is a growing expectation for abortion laws to be become a more visible issue in public and political consciousness. Indeed, with the approaching national elections in the coming year, abortion is a particularly pertinent issue.

Pro Birth Control and Abortion Graffiti (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Until there is the shift in political will, however, the small steps made by organisations such as the LFPDA are even more important. In a country where a woman’s legal rights are often ignored and become secondary to arbitrary legal processes, these organisations are taking the initiative to ensure alternatives to the failing governmental policies are known. In this way there is hope that as well as organisations such as the LFPDA coming together to make legal rights known, individuals will too.

While the demand for abortions continues, so does strong opposition to its legalisation. Independent organisations therefore have the task of stepping in where the state is failing, providing imperative information about ways to reduce maternal mortality rates. As such there is a movement shifting upwards from the very base of a tall hierarchy. That organisations are guiding women towards better reproductive options is probable. But that they are heading towards the legalisation of abortion is as yet unknown.

Posted in Human Rights, TOP STORYComments (2)

Menem Refuses to Testify in Court

Ex-president Carlos Menem, appeared in court in for the first time on Friday. He stands accused of illegal arms dealings during his presidency in the 1990s.

Currently senator for La Rioja, Menem refused to give a statement in court on recommendation of his defence lawyer, Maximiliano Rusconi, who referred to the panel of three judges as “illegitimate”.

Menem is accused of illegally selling arms, including anti-tank missiles, mortars and rifles, to Croatia and Ecuador during his government, which lasted from 1989 to 1999. The suspected arms trafficking violated a ban imposed by the United Nations.

The accused responded to questions regarding his identity, but refused to testify on the basis of “unresolved questions” concerning his case.

The court proceedings of the case against Menem, which opened last October, have been delayed due to alleged health problems of the accused. The initial accusation was made via videoconference as the ex-president was too unwell to attend court.

Menem, who denies the charges, arrived at court an hour before the trial was due to commence to avoid journalists. The court room remained closed to the press throughout the proceedings.

Posted in Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Abortion in Argentina: Unsafe and Unattainable

Protest march by Agrupación de Mujeres Pan y Rosas

Every year, 19 million women and girls worldwide face the deadly consequences of unsafe abortion. Nearly 70,000 of these women will die, and hundreds of thousands will be left with debilitating injuries as a result.

Few people have a neutral view on abortion. Whether for religious, medical, ethical, or human rights reasons, the subject generates more controversy than almost any other issue. This is particularly true in Latin America, where the Catholic Church’s vehement opposition contributes to the fact that abortion is illegal in all but three countries in the region.

It’s a debate that won’t be over any time soon, but in the meantime, in every village, slum, suburb and city around the world, women and young girls have to cope with unintended and unwanted pregnancies. Contraception doesn’t always work; in many countries sex education is limited or nonexistent; even within relationships, many women lack control over when and how they have sex; women are raped.

Nineteen million of these women each year are desperate enough to risk their lives by ending their pregnancy in dangerous, unhygienic conditions. And nearly all these women come from the poorest sectors of society.

In countries where abortion is illegal, all women suffer the stigma and emotional cost of clandestine abortions, but middle and upper class women can at least afford to pay a private clinic with the necessary skills, tools and antiseptics. Poor women, on the other hand, are forced to resort to home abortions, or go to unsanitary, unskilled backstreet practitioners.

“Imagine if you started offering any other kind of surgery, without any licensing mechanisms to check for professional qualifications and health standards,” says Carmen Barroso, director of the Western Hemisphere Region for the International Planned Parenting Foundation (IPPF). “Criminalising abortion doesn’t stop women from deciding to terminate unwanted pregnancies – but it does affect their capacity to access those services under safe conditions.”

In Argentina, it is estimated that around 100 women die each year from complications caused by unsafe abortions – in fact, here it is the number one cause of maternal death.

As in most South American countries, in Argentina abortion is illegal in most circumstances – and in practice, there seems to exist an almost total ban. Article 86 of the Penal Code defines abortion as a crime, and women can be imprisoned if caught. There are two exceptions, cases in which abortion is ‘not punishable’: when the woman’s life or health is in danger, or if the pregnancy is the product of a rape of an ‘idiot or demented woman’ (Una mujer idiota o demente).

Antiquated (and offensive) terminology aside, controversy remains as to whether abortions are non-punishable in the case of all rapes, or only in rape cases involving mentally disabled women.

In reality, the ambiguity of the law and the absence of established regulatory protocols mean that even women in supposedly non-punishable situations are rarely able to access legal, safe abortion in Argentina.

For poor women, public hospitals are often the only available option. Yet frequently, fear of legal repercussions, or a personal moral stance, leads health professionals in public hospitals to demand judicial authorisation before agreeing to terminate the pregnancy, despite the fact that it is not required by law. For their part, some judges likewise refuse to authorise the practice, arguing that they only have a role once the abortion has already been performed.

This double bind was illustrated all too vividly by the recent case of ‘MFC’, a severely handicapped 19-year-old girl from Entre Ríos. MFC has a mental age of just five, and comes from a large, poor family in the suburbs of the state capital Paraná. She was raped earlier this year, and became pregnant. Her mother denounced the rape and asked for an abortion at the local hospital.

Despite the fact that MFC’s case seems to unambiguously fulfil the requirements of a non-punishable abortion under Argentine law, the hospital, and later the judge of the state’s Court for Minors refused to allow her that right. On the contrary; in the name of protecting the rights of the unborn child, she banned all public hospitals and private clinics in Entre Ríos from performing the abortion.

Protest march by Agrupación de Mujeres Pan y Rosas

In the midst of a storm of media coverage, the Entre Ríos Supreme Court last month overturned the judge’s verdict, reinforcing the constitutionality of Article 86, and leaving the decision up to the girl’s mother, as per the penal code.

Even then, however, the public hospital in Paraná refused to carry out the abortion – leading the national minister of health Ginés González García to personally intervene. MFC was taken to a public hospital in Mar del Plata, 900km away, where she finally had the abortion on 22nd September.

“This is a tragedy, not only individually for the girl and her family, but institutionally. The state must guarantee public health services,” González García told Página 12. “This case exemplifies a serious situation, where 80,000 women are hospitalised in Argentina each year from the effects of clandestine abortions,” he said.

Sex education and widespread access to contraception also help eliminate the need for women to seek unsafe abortions. Despite legal advances in the field over the past few years – the Sexual Health and Responsible Reproduction Law, which guaranteed free access to regular and emergency contraception, was introduced in 2002 – in practice, particularly outside the capital, there is still a long way to go, says IPPF programme officer for safe abortion, Giselle Carino.

“These laws are steps in the right direction, but changing the law is not in itself sufficient. It’s clear from these cases that at the educational and services level there’s still a lot of work to do,” she says.

This June, in San Pedro, a small town in the north-western province of Jujuy, 17-year-old ‘N’ was raped as she left a bar. Battered and traumatised, she arrived at the local hospital, where she was kept for a week – and never given the morning after pill. When, inevitably, she became pregnant, the hospital director refused to allow her an abortion.

“It’s inexplicable,” says Mariana Vargas, N’s lawyer. “When we went to the hospital to ask for the abortion, we asked why she was denied emergency contraception. They gave us various excuses that didn’t make sense – including that taking the morning after pill amounted to an abortion.”

When the provincial Court for Minors also refused to authorise the procedure, the local community began raising money to help N pay for an abortion at an illegal private clinic. N’s mother later informed the court that she had had a miscarriage.

MFC and N are just two among countless Argentine women whose health and human rights have been threatened by restrictive abortion laws and their inconsistent application in the courts.

But their stories have brought the issue of abortion out of the shadows and onto the television sets and newspapers of the nation, sparking a countrywide debate.

The government is listening, too – for the first time health minister González García is treating unsafe abortion as a priority public health issue. Two new bills which aim to eliminate the need for judicial approval in non-punishable cases, and secure the right to abortion for any rape victim, are currently being considered by parliament. Supporters believe it will be passed before the end of the year – if October’s elections don’t shake things up too much.

Public opinion likewise seems to be swinging towards a more thorough liberalisation of abortion laws. Research by the National Study of Public Opinion on Reproductive Rights last yearfound that 48% of Argentines were in favour of decriminalising abortion – up from 28% in 2004.

“The debate is opening up, and above all there has been a change in awareness, especially in women’s awareness,” says Vargas. “This is so important, because we are talking about really profound ideas: a woman’s right to end an unwanted pregnancy, to say ‘No’, to be respected, and to have control over her own body.”


Posted in Human RightsComments (2)

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