Report raises concern about illegal, unsafe abortions

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A recent report released by the Directorate of Gender Affairs (DoGA) has raised concern about the illegal practice of abortion, which it said is posing a threat to the lives of women.
The Antigua & Barbuda 2017 Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Preliminary Release captured developments over a 20-year period from 1995-2015. The report notes that the CEDAW committee expressed concern “about the continuing illegality of abortion, which would lead to unsafe abortions.”
Under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1873 (cap 58, part IX, sections 53-54), abortion is considered an offence in all cases. The general criminal law principles of necessity, however, allow an abortion to be performed to save the life of the pregnant woman.
Additionally, under the Infant Life Preservation Act of 1937, no person shall be found guilty of the offence of destroying a child capable of being born alive if the act was done in good faith for preserving the life of the mother.
The report stated that in Antigua & Barbuda, to date, no one has ever been prosecuted for having an abortion or effecting an abortion and there are no available statistics on the practice.
CEDAW also noted the absence of laws that deal with the affairs of women such as sexual harassment and “cat calling”.
“There are no specific laws which address sexual harassment. Anecdotal evidence reveals that inappropriate sexual advances still frequently occur in the workplace and women are more likely to be affected by sexual harassment than their male counterparts,” it stated.
The report also spoke to an issue that Minister of Gender Affairs Samantha Marshall is passionate about, which is that legislation to address gender related violence and sexual violence need to be more gender specific and encompassing.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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