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News

Latest news from IPPF EN

Spotlight

A selection of news from across the Federation

Image GBV access to justice 16 Days
News item

EU efforts to combat violence against women at risk as governments withhold support for vital bill

On the Intl Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, IPPF EN welcomes MEPs' strong commitment to EU action on GBV, and calls on Member States to prioritise people's safety over politics. No excuses.
Safe from Harm
news item

| 25 January 2024

Civil society calls for a robust EU Directive on violence against women and domestic violence

On 24 January, as final negotiations on the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence are taking place, IPPF EN and 11 other NGOs called on negotiators to take effective action and ensure that a robust Directive is urgently adopted. An open letter to negotiators in the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission ahead of the final negotiations of this mandate on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) 105 final, 8 March 2022) We are writing as concerned organisations[1] that advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence. As we have entered the final weeks of European Union institutions’ ability to negotiate legislative files before the next European elections, we call on European governments to level up and take effective action to combat violence against women and domestic violence by urgently adopting a robust Directive. We welcome this proposed Directive, as it provides much needed comprehensive responses, incorporating prevention, protection, support for victims and prosecution for a range of criminal offences which constitute violence against women and domestic violence. The adoption of this Directive is, however, endangered due to several Member States’ failure to agree to strengthen laws and policies at the EU level and endorse crucial measures supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as by diverse civil society organisations across Europe. If agreement is not reached in the next weeks, there are serious risks of this proposal being further weakened or not adopted at all under the next mandate of the European Parliament. This would leave women and other people affected across the EU without adequate protection from gender-based and domestic violence. We urge national governments to transform lip service to ending violence against women into concrete and effective action against this scourge that affects millions in the EU, including by ensuring that rape based on lack of consent is a criminal offence across the EU. We have been dismayed to see Member States propose rejecting the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape in this Directive. It is utterly unacceptable that some Member States are stubbornly unresponsive to the need to combat rape across the EU, hiding behind restrictive legal interpretations on EU competences. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions have proven to guarantee greater protection and access to justice for women and other victims of rape, including increased reporting and prosecution rates. We urge governments to act in accordance with their international and regional human rights obligations, particularly under the Istanbul Convention, and agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. Therefore, as organisations closely engaged on the issues at hand, we call on Member States to ensure that the Directive criminalises rape with a consent-based definition, as well as female and intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It should combat violence on grounds of sex and gender, and address intersectional discrimination, with specific attention paid to LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent residence status. We call for strengthened protection and access to justice for victims, including access to compensation and safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure survivors are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status. The Directive should further guarantee comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist support services, including the clinical management of rape and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence, as well as support for child victims. We also call for the adoption of widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education. For more detailed recommendations, we refer to our joint position published in 2023. There are times when political decisions can make a profound difference to millions of people’s lives. This is one of them. Member States have an opportunity to enact a Directive that can be truly transformative. We call on you to show courage and leadership and grab this opportunity. Sincerely, International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPF EN) Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights End FGM European Network EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C) European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA) Human Rights Watch La Strada International, European NGO Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings  Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)   Transgender Europe (TGEU) [1] Our organisations work on a diverse range of women’s rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.

Safe from Harm
news_item

| 25 January 2024

Civil society calls for a robust EU Directive on violence against women and domestic violence

On 24 January, as final negotiations on the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence are taking place, IPPF EN and 11 other NGOs called on negotiators to take effective action and ensure that a robust Directive is urgently adopted. An open letter to negotiators in the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission ahead of the final negotiations of this mandate on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) 105 final, 8 March 2022) We are writing as concerned organisations[1] that advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence. As we have entered the final weeks of European Union institutions’ ability to negotiate legislative files before the next European elections, we call on European governments to level up and take effective action to combat violence against women and domestic violence by urgently adopting a robust Directive. We welcome this proposed Directive, as it provides much needed comprehensive responses, incorporating prevention, protection, support for victims and prosecution for a range of criminal offences which constitute violence against women and domestic violence. The adoption of this Directive is, however, endangered due to several Member States’ failure to agree to strengthen laws and policies at the EU level and endorse crucial measures supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as by diverse civil society organisations across Europe. If agreement is not reached in the next weeks, there are serious risks of this proposal being further weakened or not adopted at all under the next mandate of the European Parliament. This would leave women and other people affected across the EU without adequate protection from gender-based and domestic violence. We urge national governments to transform lip service to ending violence against women into concrete and effective action against this scourge that affects millions in the EU, including by ensuring that rape based on lack of consent is a criminal offence across the EU. We have been dismayed to see Member States propose rejecting the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape in this Directive. It is utterly unacceptable that some Member States are stubbornly unresponsive to the need to combat rape across the EU, hiding behind restrictive legal interpretations on EU competences. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions have proven to guarantee greater protection and access to justice for women and other victims of rape, including increased reporting and prosecution rates. We urge governments to act in accordance with their international and regional human rights obligations, particularly under the Istanbul Convention, and agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. Therefore, as organisations closely engaged on the issues at hand, we call on Member States to ensure that the Directive criminalises rape with a consent-based definition, as well as female and intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It should combat violence on grounds of sex and gender, and address intersectional discrimination, with specific attention paid to LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent residence status. We call for strengthened protection and access to justice for victims, including access to compensation and safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure survivors are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status. The Directive should further guarantee comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist support services, including the clinical management of rape and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence, as well as support for child victims. We also call for the adoption of widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education. For more detailed recommendations, we refer to our joint position published in 2023. There are times when political decisions can make a profound difference to millions of people’s lives. This is one of them. Member States have an opportunity to enact a Directive that can be truly transformative. We call on you to show courage and leadership and grab this opportunity. Sincerely, International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPF EN) Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights End FGM European Network EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C) European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA) Human Rights Watch La Strada International, European NGO Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings  Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)   Transgender Europe (TGEU) [1] Our organisations work on a diverse range of women’s rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.

Image GBV access to justice 16 Days
news item

| 25 November 2023

EU efforts to combat violence against women at risk as governments withhold support for vital bill

One year ago, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, IPPF EN welcomed the EU’s recent proposal to introduce its first ever binding legislation on combating violence against women and domestic violence. We urged the EU institutions to seize this unique opportunity to help ensure a safer EU in which everyone could thrive, free from the harm and fear of gender-based violence. This year, as negotiations on this key file continue, we thank the European Parliament for its work to support and strengthen the draft legislation, and especially welcome its determination to hold firm on maintaining the criminalisation of rape with a consent-based definition across the EU. Consent-based laws are an essential measure to ensure greater access to justice for victims of sexual violence, and too many European countries still have outdated legislation with patriarchal definitions that require force or threats to have taken place. Sadly, Member States’ contribution so far has been to try water down this landmark EU proposal and to drag their feet over vital measures designed to protect and further gender equality. It is unacceptable for the EU Council to place politics and technicalities ahead of people’s lives, when far too many of us are disproportionately affected by violence on the basis of our gender alone, and a shocking third of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. This 25 November, as the EU institutions seek to finalise talks on the future law, we urge national governments to put people first and back a strong and progressive bill that will truly underpin efforts to combat GBV in Europe, including by ensuring that rape becomes a criminal offence with a consent-based definition across the entire EU.     Among the many other vital measures that must feature in this future EU legislation, IPPF EN applauds MEPs’ support for ensuring that victims of sexual violence have access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. The EU Council has inexcusably so far failed to guarantee medical care for victims, thereby exposing people to further harm, particularly in restrictive contexts where women face denial of care. Comprehensive sexuality and relationship education is a vital prevention measure because when we equip all young people with crucial knowledge and skills to navigate issues like consent and gender norms, we empower them to build healthy and respectful relationships, and tackle the root causes of GBV. MEPs have backed strong language on sexuality education as a tool for prevention, and we count on negotiators to ensure that robust wording is adopted in the future EU law. It is also crucial that the EU legislation take an intersectional approach and recognise that some groups - such as LGBTIQ people, sex workers and women fleeing conflict - face increased risks or have specific needs. *** Read more about how the EU bill is a crucial tool to keep people safe from harm.

Image GBV access to justice 16 Days
news_item

| 25 November 2023

EU efforts to combat violence against women at risk as governments withhold support for vital bill

One year ago, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, IPPF EN welcomed the EU’s recent proposal to introduce its first ever binding legislation on combating violence against women and domestic violence. We urged the EU institutions to seize this unique opportunity to help ensure a safer EU in which everyone could thrive, free from the harm and fear of gender-based violence. This year, as negotiations on this key file continue, we thank the European Parliament for its work to support and strengthen the draft legislation, and especially welcome its determination to hold firm on maintaining the criminalisation of rape with a consent-based definition across the EU. Consent-based laws are an essential measure to ensure greater access to justice for victims of sexual violence, and too many European countries still have outdated legislation with patriarchal definitions that require force or threats to have taken place. Sadly, Member States’ contribution so far has been to try water down this landmark EU proposal and to drag their feet over vital measures designed to protect and further gender equality. It is unacceptable for the EU Council to place politics and technicalities ahead of people’s lives, when far too many of us are disproportionately affected by violence on the basis of our gender alone, and a shocking third of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. This 25 November, as the EU institutions seek to finalise talks on the future law, we urge national governments to put people first and back a strong and progressive bill that will truly underpin efforts to combat GBV in Europe, including by ensuring that rape becomes a criminal offence with a consent-based definition across the entire EU.     Among the many other vital measures that must feature in this future EU legislation, IPPF EN applauds MEPs’ support for ensuring that victims of sexual violence have access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. The EU Council has inexcusably so far failed to guarantee medical care for victims, thereby exposing people to further harm, particularly in restrictive contexts where women face denial of care. Comprehensive sexuality and relationship education is a vital prevention measure because when we equip all young people with crucial knowledge and skills to navigate issues like consent and gender norms, we empower them to build healthy and respectful relationships, and tackle the root causes of GBV. MEPs have backed strong language on sexuality education as a tool for prevention, and we count on negotiators to ensure that robust wording is adopted in the future EU law. It is also crucial that the EU legislation take an intersectional approach and recognise that some groups - such as LGBTIQ people, sex workers and women fleeing conflict - face increased risks or have specific needs. *** Read more about how the EU bill is a crucial tool to keep people safe from harm.

power
news item

| 22 November 2023

Digital Fireside Chat on Combating Violence

Join us on Instagram on December 7 at 10.30am CET, to discuss how to achieve #AWorldWhere we are all free from gender-based violence together with Sonali Silva, SRHR activist and co-chair at SheDecides, Josephine Odhiambo, Program Lead at Youth Changers Kenya, and Esme Stuart, Programme Manager – Human Rights, Gender and Youth at the European Commission, DG INTPA. During this event, our guests will share their reflections on the challenges we face in combating gender-based violence globally and the solutions we have at our disposal to ensure we all live in a safer world. Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture with 1 in 3 women across the globe expected to experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. We know this number is higher in some places, affecting 2 in 3 women. We have a shared responsibility to help create more gender equal societies in which everyone is safe from harm and treated with dignity. We will also discuss how sexual and reproductive health and rights can be part of the solutions that we know are effective to prevent, protect and support survivors. What can you expect? We will be talking about the benefits of directly funding grassroot feminist organisations and movements that work to end gender-based violence and how our communities can change for the better if we work together to redesign systems so that they protect everyone. We will also be speaking about the role of the European Union in fighting gender-based violence globally. Join our Instagram Live and follow @C2030Europe for updates! Add this to your calendar. The Instagram Live is organised under the umbrella of the #AWorldWhere campaign aiming to drive Europe’s global commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, to meet Sustainable Development Goals targets, advance gender equality and strengthen health systems. #AWorldWhere is a Countdown 2030 Europe initiative driven by 15 leading European non-governmental organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive freedom worldwide. Illustration: Jessica Whitney Crowe

power
news_item

| 22 November 2023

Digital Fireside Chat on Combating Violence

Join us on Instagram on December 7 at 10.30am CET, to discuss how to achieve #AWorldWhere we are all free from gender-based violence together with Sonali Silva, SRHR activist and co-chair at SheDecides, Josephine Odhiambo, Program Lead at Youth Changers Kenya, and Esme Stuart, Programme Manager – Human Rights, Gender and Youth at the European Commission, DG INTPA. During this event, our guests will share their reflections on the challenges we face in combating gender-based violence globally and the solutions we have at our disposal to ensure we all live in a safer world. Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture with 1 in 3 women across the globe expected to experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. We know this number is higher in some places, affecting 2 in 3 women. We have a shared responsibility to help create more gender equal societies in which everyone is safe from harm and treated with dignity. We will also discuss how sexual and reproductive health and rights can be part of the solutions that we know are effective to prevent, protect and support survivors. What can you expect? We will be talking about the benefits of directly funding grassroot feminist organisations and movements that work to end gender-based violence and how our communities can change for the better if we work together to redesign systems so that they protect everyone. We will also be speaking about the role of the European Union in fighting gender-based violence globally. Join our Instagram Live and follow @C2030Europe for updates! Add this to your calendar. The Instagram Live is organised under the umbrella of the #AWorldWhere campaign aiming to drive Europe’s global commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, to meet Sustainable Development Goals targets, advance gender equality and strengthen health systems. #AWorldWhere is a Countdown 2030 Europe initiative driven by 15 leading European non-governmental organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive freedom worldwide. Illustration: Jessica Whitney Crowe

Illustration solidarity
news item

| 17 October 2023

Statement: Polish elections - The people vote for reproductive freedom and European values

IPPF EN strongly welcomes the result of Poland’s parliamentary elections, held on 15 October, in which opposition parties won a greater number of seats than the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Record turnout saw over 73% of women and 69% of young people cast their ballot, up 12% and 22% respectively compared to Poland’s last parliamentary elections in 2019. Queues at polling booths meant some people waited in line until 3am to vote. This defeat for PiS after eight years in government is a direct result of the 2020 Women’s Strike protests, when hundreds of thousands of Polish people expressed their outrage at the imposition of a near-total abortion ban, fatally weakening support for PiS’ cruel and anti-democratic regime. Ahead of the elections, Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Platform opposition party, pledged to legalise abortion care within the first 100 days of government, if elected. “The high turnout is all the more remarkable given PiS’s ever-increasing control of the media, most of the courts, the police and the military,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. “The strength of feeling among women and young people in particular is crystal clear. Tusk now has a clear popular mandate to take action on abortion care, and we look forward to seeing the opposition deliver on its promises to restore women’s reproductive rights,” added Donadio. The election result also confirms the strong commitment of the majority of Polish people to key European values such as democracy and the rule of law. It is extremely positive see Poland realign with the European Union and we look forward to seeing it take its place as a constructive partner alongside other European countries. “Poland’s change of course sends a much-needed, hopeful signal to all of Europe, and especially to citizens in Central Europe, in these turbulent times,” said Donadio.   *** Media contacts: enpress@ippf.org Irene Donadio: +32 (0) 491 719 390 *** Illustration: Izabela Markova, The Greats

Illustration solidarity
news_item

| 17 October 2023

Statement: Polish elections - The people vote for reproductive freedom and European values

IPPF EN strongly welcomes the result of Poland’s parliamentary elections, held on 15 October, in which opposition parties won a greater number of seats than the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Record turnout saw over 73% of women and 69% of young people cast their ballot, up 12% and 22% respectively compared to Poland’s last parliamentary elections in 2019. Queues at polling booths meant some people waited in line until 3am to vote. This defeat for PiS after eight years in government is a direct result of the 2020 Women’s Strike protests, when hundreds of thousands of Polish people expressed their outrage at the imposition of a near-total abortion ban, fatally weakening support for PiS’ cruel and anti-democratic regime. Ahead of the elections, Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Platform opposition party, pledged to legalise abortion care within the first 100 days of government, if elected. “The high turnout is all the more remarkable given PiS’s ever-increasing control of the media, most of the courts, the police and the military,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. “The strength of feeling among women and young people in particular is crystal clear. Tusk now has a clear popular mandate to take action on abortion care, and we look forward to seeing the opposition deliver on its promises to restore women’s reproductive rights,” added Donadio. The election result also confirms the strong commitment of the majority of Polish people to key European values such as democracy and the rule of law. It is extremely positive see Poland realign with the European Union and we look forward to seeing it take its place as a constructive partner alongside other European countries. “Poland’s change of course sends a much-needed, hopeful signal to all of Europe, and especially to citizens in Central Europe, in these turbulent times,” said Donadio.   *** Media contacts: enpress@ippf.org Irene Donadio: +32 (0) 491 719 390 *** Illustration: Izabela Markova, The Greats

Image action against GBV
news item

| 25 September 2023

EU negotiations on bill to Combat Violence Against Women: Joint civil society position

In the final months of 2023, the EU institutions will hold a series of "trialogues" - negotiations between the EU Council (national governments), European Parliament and European Commission aiming to agree on the final wording of the draft EU Directive on Combating Violence Against Women. This is a crucial moment in the legislative process, since both the Council and the Parliament adopted their initial negotiating positions in June: MEPs voting to strengthen key provisions of the European Commission's ambitious original proposal, but Member States inexcusably proposing to water down vital elements of the bill, notably by failing to support the criminalisation of rape. At this key moment, IPPF EN and our civil society partners have prepared a joint position setting out a clear call to action to the EU institutions if they are to ensure this landmark proposal becomes a truly effective tool in our shared fight to end gender-based violence and create more gender equal societies for all. Download the joint position below.

Image action against GBV
news_item

| 25 September 2023

EU negotiations on bill to Combat Violence Against Women: Joint civil society position

In the final months of 2023, the EU institutions will hold a series of "trialogues" - negotiations between the EU Council (national governments), European Parliament and European Commission aiming to agree on the final wording of the draft EU Directive on Combating Violence Against Women. This is a crucial moment in the legislative process, since both the Council and the Parliament adopted their initial negotiating positions in June: MEPs voting to strengthen key provisions of the European Commission's ambitious original proposal, but Member States inexcusably proposing to water down vital elements of the bill, notably by failing to support the criminalisation of rape. At this key moment, IPPF EN and our civil society partners have prepared a joint position setting out a clear call to action to the EU institutions if they are to ensure this landmark proposal becomes a truly effective tool in our shared fight to end gender-based violence and create more gender equal societies for all. Download the joint position below.

Abortion
news item

| 22 September 2023

Ahead of International Safe Abortion Day, CSOs call for action

The European Safe Abortion Networking Group is a group of national, regional and international SRHR organisations based in Europe, working for universal access to safe, legal abortion. The group was formed in 2019 and has been meeting online bi-monthly since the Covid pandemic began. Many people assume everything is OK with abortion in Europe. And it’s true that most of the countries in the region have very good laws and services compared to the rest of the world and that much has improved over the last years with strong national advocacy campaigns, feminist-run clinics, and active support from a long list of political parties, human rights bodies and the World Health Organization. But we still have a long way to go to make abortions universally accessible to everyone who seeks them. In many of our countries, even those with good laws on paper, access in practice is far from perfect, and making change happen is a slow process. We are going through a period where anti-rights movements are posing a serious threat to abortion access across the region. Most European countries allow abortion on request in the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy - although not without any regulatory, practical or medically unnecessary obstacles. Access to second and especially third trimester abortions, however, can be very limited and hemmed in with conditions, restrictions and requiring third party approval (doctors, parents), even though later abortions are so few and needed in the most desperate of situations. In a number of countries, abortion is still in the penal code, which permits legal systems to prosecute individuals for having or providing abortions, and also adds to stigma and discrimination. Moreover, there are still countries where most or all abortions are illegal, including Malta, Andorra and Poland, and where women are compelled to seek abortions outside the law - especially the growing numbers using pills but not under a clinician’s control. Women having abortions, and advocates for abortion rights are being prosecuted too, in Poland, Andorra, Malta and England. Almost invisibly, across the whole panorama of legal and clinical restrictions, thousands of women are still having to travel within and between countries to get abortions, often supported by under-resourced grassroots organisations and collectives instead of being supported by the State. The pandemic years made many things more difficult. Medical abortion pills were scarce in some countries and still are - and some countries still do not even allow abortion pills at all (e.g. Slovakia, Hungary). Travel across borders for abortions, especially later abortions, obviously became more difficult. On the other hand, some countries have approved the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion with pills up to some point in the first trimester and it has now become a permanent option in some countries (such as France and the UK) and is well-established as an option within the care pathway in Ireland. Here are some of the most important legal and service-related changes and improvements we are calling for and will campaign for in our countries and across the region going forward: Complete decriminalisation of abortion in all countries, both as a harm reduction strategy to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity but also to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, bodily autonomy and voluntary motherhood. Universal access to safe, legal abortions, as early as possible and for as long as needed, with choice of method. Self-managed abortion with pills up to 12 weeks should be allowed in all countries as recommended by the World Health Organization. Statement and Call for Action by the European Safe Abortion Networking Group for International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September 2023 Approval of combined medical abortion pills, and approval of misoprostol as an abortifacient, in all countries. Medical abortion pills are a very safe method, not only in the first trimester but also for later abortion, and are on the WHO Essential Medicines List. All countries should implement the 2022 World Health Organization Abortion Care guidelines including training for the range of health care providers, including pharmacists, who can provide services. Increase access to abortion beyond 12 weeks through training and education for midwives, nurses and doctors. Policies must be gender inclusive, that is, applying to women, girls and all people who can become pregnant and who seek an abortion.  

Abortion
news_item

| 22 September 2023

Ahead of International Safe Abortion Day, CSOs call for action

The European Safe Abortion Networking Group is a group of national, regional and international SRHR organisations based in Europe, working for universal access to safe, legal abortion. The group was formed in 2019 and has been meeting online bi-monthly since the Covid pandemic began. Many people assume everything is OK with abortion in Europe. And it’s true that most of the countries in the region have very good laws and services compared to the rest of the world and that much has improved over the last years with strong national advocacy campaigns, feminist-run clinics, and active support from a long list of political parties, human rights bodies and the World Health Organization. But we still have a long way to go to make abortions universally accessible to everyone who seeks them. In many of our countries, even those with good laws on paper, access in practice is far from perfect, and making change happen is a slow process. We are going through a period where anti-rights movements are posing a serious threat to abortion access across the region. Most European countries allow abortion on request in the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy - although not without any regulatory, practical or medically unnecessary obstacles. Access to second and especially third trimester abortions, however, can be very limited and hemmed in with conditions, restrictions and requiring third party approval (doctors, parents), even though later abortions are so few and needed in the most desperate of situations. In a number of countries, abortion is still in the penal code, which permits legal systems to prosecute individuals for having or providing abortions, and also adds to stigma and discrimination. Moreover, there are still countries where most or all abortions are illegal, including Malta, Andorra and Poland, and where women are compelled to seek abortions outside the law - especially the growing numbers using pills but not under a clinician’s control. Women having abortions, and advocates for abortion rights are being prosecuted too, in Poland, Andorra, Malta and England. Almost invisibly, across the whole panorama of legal and clinical restrictions, thousands of women are still having to travel within and between countries to get abortions, often supported by under-resourced grassroots organisations and collectives instead of being supported by the State. The pandemic years made many things more difficult. Medical abortion pills were scarce in some countries and still are - and some countries still do not even allow abortion pills at all (e.g. Slovakia, Hungary). Travel across borders for abortions, especially later abortions, obviously became more difficult. On the other hand, some countries have approved the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion with pills up to some point in the first trimester and it has now become a permanent option in some countries (such as France and the UK) and is well-established as an option within the care pathway in Ireland. Here are some of the most important legal and service-related changes and improvements we are calling for and will campaign for in our countries and across the region going forward: Complete decriminalisation of abortion in all countries, both as a harm reduction strategy to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity but also to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, bodily autonomy and voluntary motherhood. Universal access to safe, legal abortions, as early as possible and for as long as needed, with choice of method. Self-managed abortion with pills up to 12 weeks should be allowed in all countries as recommended by the World Health Organization. Statement and Call for Action by the European Safe Abortion Networking Group for International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September 2023 Approval of combined medical abortion pills, and approval of misoprostol as an abortifacient, in all countries. Medical abortion pills are a very safe method, not only in the first trimester but also for later abortion, and are on the WHO Essential Medicines List. All countries should implement the 2022 World Health Organization Abortion Care guidelines including training for the range of health care providers, including pharmacists, who can provide services. Increase access to abortion beyond 12 weeks through training and education for midwives, nurses and doctors. Policies must be gender inclusive, that is, applying to women, girls and all people who can become pregnant and who seek an abortion.  

Safe from Harm
news item

| 25 January 2024

Civil society calls for a robust EU Directive on violence against women and domestic violence

On 24 January, as final negotiations on the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence are taking place, IPPF EN and 11 other NGOs called on negotiators to take effective action and ensure that a robust Directive is urgently adopted. An open letter to negotiators in the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission ahead of the final negotiations of this mandate on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) 105 final, 8 March 2022) We are writing as concerned organisations[1] that advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence. As we have entered the final weeks of European Union institutions’ ability to negotiate legislative files before the next European elections, we call on European governments to level up and take effective action to combat violence against women and domestic violence by urgently adopting a robust Directive. We welcome this proposed Directive, as it provides much needed comprehensive responses, incorporating prevention, protection, support for victims and prosecution for a range of criminal offences which constitute violence against women and domestic violence. The adoption of this Directive is, however, endangered due to several Member States’ failure to agree to strengthen laws and policies at the EU level and endorse crucial measures supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as by diverse civil society organisations across Europe. If agreement is not reached in the next weeks, there are serious risks of this proposal being further weakened or not adopted at all under the next mandate of the European Parliament. This would leave women and other people affected across the EU without adequate protection from gender-based and domestic violence. We urge national governments to transform lip service to ending violence against women into concrete and effective action against this scourge that affects millions in the EU, including by ensuring that rape based on lack of consent is a criminal offence across the EU. We have been dismayed to see Member States propose rejecting the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape in this Directive. It is utterly unacceptable that some Member States are stubbornly unresponsive to the need to combat rape across the EU, hiding behind restrictive legal interpretations on EU competences. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions have proven to guarantee greater protection and access to justice for women and other victims of rape, including increased reporting and prosecution rates. We urge governments to act in accordance with their international and regional human rights obligations, particularly under the Istanbul Convention, and agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. Therefore, as organisations closely engaged on the issues at hand, we call on Member States to ensure that the Directive criminalises rape with a consent-based definition, as well as female and intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It should combat violence on grounds of sex and gender, and address intersectional discrimination, with specific attention paid to LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent residence status. We call for strengthened protection and access to justice for victims, including access to compensation and safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure survivors are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status. The Directive should further guarantee comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist support services, including the clinical management of rape and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence, as well as support for child victims. We also call for the adoption of widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education. For more detailed recommendations, we refer to our joint position published in 2023. There are times when political decisions can make a profound difference to millions of people’s lives. This is one of them. Member States have an opportunity to enact a Directive that can be truly transformative. We call on you to show courage and leadership and grab this opportunity. Sincerely, International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPF EN) Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights End FGM European Network EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C) European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA) Human Rights Watch La Strada International, European NGO Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings  Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)   Transgender Europe (TGEU) [1] Our organisations work on a diverse range of women’s rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.

Safe from Harm
news_item

| 25 January 2024

Civil society calls for a robust EU Directive on violence against women and domestic violence

On 24 January, as final negotiations on the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence are taking place, IPPF EN and 11 other NGOs called on negotiators to take effective action and ensure that a robust Directive is urgently adopted. An open letter to negotiators in the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission ahead of the final negotiations of this mandate on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) 105 final, 8 March 2022) We are writing as concerned organisations[1] that advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence. As we have entered the final weeks of European Union institutions’ ability to negotiate legislative files before the next European elections, we call on European governments to level up and take effective action to combat violence against women and domestic violence by urgently adopting a robust Directive. We welcome this proposed Directive, as it provides much needed comprehensive responses, incorporating prevention, protection, support for victims and prosecution for a range of criminal offences which constitute violence against women and domestic violence. The adoption of this Directive is, however, endangered due to several Member States’ failure to agree to strengthen laws and policies at the EU level and endorse crucial measures supported by the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as by diverse civil society organisations across Europe. If agreement is not reached in the next weeks, there are serious risks of this proposal being further weakened or not adopted at all under the next mandate of the European Parliament. This would leave women and other people affected across the EU without adequate protection from gender-based and domestic violence. We urge national governments to transform lip service to ending violence against women into concrete and effective action against this scourge that affects millions in the EU, including by ensuring that rape based on lack of consent is a criminal offence across the EU. We have been dismayed to see Member States propose rejecting the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape in this Directive. It is utterly unacceptable that some Member States are stubbornly unresponsive to the need to combat rape across the EU, hiding behind restrictive legal interpretations on EU competences. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions have proven to guarantee greater protection and access to justice for women and other victims of rape, including increased reporting and prosecution rates. We urge governments to act in accordance with their international and regional human rights obligations, particularly under the Istanbul Convention, and agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. Therefore, as organisations closely engaged on the issues at hand, we call on Member States to ensure that the Directive criminalises rape with a consent-based definition, as well as female and intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It should combat violence on grounds of sex and gender, and address intersectional discrimination, with specific attention paid to LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent residence status. We call for strengthened protection and access to justice for victims, including access to compensation and safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure survivors are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status. The Directive should further guarantee comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist support services, including the clinical management of rape and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence, as well as support for child victims. We also call for the adoption of widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education. For more detailed recommendations, we refer to our joint position published in 2023. There are times when political decisions can make a profound difference to millions of people’s lives. This is one of them. Member States have an opportunity to enact a Directive that can be truly transformative. We call on you to show courage and leadership and grab this opportunity. Sincerely, International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPF EN) Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights End FGM European Network EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C) European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA) Human Rights Watch La Strada International, European NGO Platform Against Trafficking in Human Beings  Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe)   Transgender Europe (TGEU) [1] Our organisations work on a diverse range of women’s rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.

Image GBV access to justice 16 Days
news item

| 25 November 2023

EU efforts to combat violence against women at risk as governments withhold support for vital bill

One year ago, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, IPPF EN welcomed the EU’s recent proposal to introduce its first ever binding legislation on combating violence against women and domestic violence. We urged the EU institutions to seize this unique opportunity to help ensure a safer EU in which everyone could thrive, free from the harm and fear of gender-based violence. This year, as negotiations on this key file continue, we thank the European Parliament for its work to support and strengthen the draft legislation, and especially welcome its determination to hold firm on maintaining the criminalisation of rape with a consent-based definition across the EU. Consent-based laws are an essential measure to ensure greater access to justice for victims of sexual violence, and too many European countries still have outdated legislation with patriarchal definitions that require force or threats to have taken place. Sadly, Member States’ contribution so far has been to try water down this landmark EU proposal and to drag their feet over vital measures designed to protect and further gender equality. It is unacceptable for the EU Council to place politics and technicalities ahead of people’s lives, when far too many of us are disproportionately affected by violence on the basis of our gender alone, and a shocking third of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. This 25 November, as the EU institutions seek to finalise talks on the future law, we urge national governments to put people first and back a strong and progressive bill that will truly underpin efforts to combat GBV in Europe, including by ensuring that rape becomes a criminal offence with a consent-based definition across the entire EU.     Among the many other vital measures that must feature in this future EU legislation, IPPF EN applauds MEPs’ support for ensuring that victims of sexual violence have access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. The EU Council has inexcusably so far failed to guarantee medical care for victims, thereby exposing people to further harm, particularly in restrictive contexts where women face denial of care. Comprehensive sexuality and relationship education is a vital prevention measure because when we equip all young people with crucial knowledge and skills to navigate issues like consent and gender norms, we empower them to build healthy and respectful relationships, and tackle the root causes of GBV. MEPs have backed strong language on sexuality education as a tool for prevention, and we count on negotiators to ensure that robust wording is adopted in the future EU law. It is also crucial that the EU legislation take an intersectional approach and recognise that some groups - such as LGBTIQ people, sex workers and women fleeing conflict - face increased risks or have specific needs. *** Read more about how the EU bill is a crucial tool to keep people safe from harm.

Image GBV access to justice 16 Days
news_item

| 25 November 2023

EU efforts to combat violence against women at risk as governments withhold support for vital bill

One year ago, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, IPPF EN welcomed the EU’s recent proposal to introduce its first ever binding legislation on combating violence against women and domestic violence. We urged the EU institutions to seize this unique opportunity to help ensure a safer EU in which everyone could thrive, free from the harm and fear of gender-based violence. This year, as negotiations on this key file continue, we thank the European Parliament for its work to support and strengthen the draft legislation, and especially welcome its determination to hold firm on maintaining the criminalisation of rape with a consent-based definition across the EU. Consent-based laws are an essential measure to ensure greater access to justice for victims of sexual violence, and too many European countries still have outdated legislation with patriarchal definitions that require force or threats to have taken place. Sadly, Member States’ contribution so far has been to try water down this landmark EU proposal and to drag their feet over vital measures designed to protect and further gender equality. It is unacceptable for the EU Council to place politics and technicalities ahead of people’s lives, when far too many of us are disproportionately affected by violence on the basis of our gender alone, and a shocking third of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. This 25 November, as the EU institutions seek to finalise talks on the future law, we urge national governments to put people first and back a strong and progressive bill that will truly underpin efforts to combat GBV in Europe, including by ensuring that rape becomes a criminal offence with a consent-based definition across the entire EU.     Among the many other vital measures that must feature in this future EU legislation, IPPF EN applauds MEPs’ support for ensuring that victims of sexual violence have access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care. The EU Council has inexcusably so far failed to guarantee medical care for victims, thereby exposing people to further harm, particularly in restrictive contexts where women face denial of care. Comprehensive sexuality and relationship education is a vital prevention measure because when we equip all young people with crucial knowledge and skills to navigate issues like consent and gender norms, we empower them to build healthy and respectful relationships, and tackle the root causes of GBV. MEPs have backed strong language on sexuality education as a tool for prevention, and we count on negotiators to ensure that robust wording is adopted in the future EU law. It is also crucial that the EU legislation take an intersectional approach and recognise that some groups - such as LGBTIQ people, sex workers and women fleeing conflict - face increased risks or have specific needs. *** Read more about how the EU bill is a crucial tool to keep people safe from harm.

power
news item

| 22 November 2023

Digital Fireside Chat on Combating Violence

Join us on Instagram on December 7 at 10.30am CET, to discuss how to achieve #AWorldWhere we are all free from gender-based violence together with Sonali Silva, SRHR activist and co-chair at SheDecides, Josephine Odhiambo, Program Lead at Youth Changers Kenya, and Esme Stuart, Programme Manager – Human Rights, Gender and Youth at the European Commission, DG INTPA. During this event, our guests will share their reflections on the challenges we face in combating gender-based violence globally and the solutions we have at our disposal to ensure we all live in a safer world. Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture with 1 in 3 women across the globe expected to experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. We know this number is higher in some places, affecting 2 in 3 women. We have a shared responsibility to help create more gender equal societies in which everyone is safe from harm and treated with dignity. We will also discuss how sexual and reproductive health and rights can be part of the solutions that we know are effective to prevent, protect and support survivors. What can you expect? We will be talking about the benefits of directly funding grassroot feminist organisations and movements that work to end gender-based violence and how our communities can change for the better if we work together to redesign systems so that they protect everyone. We will also be speaking about the role of the European Union in fighting gender-based violence globally. Join our Instagram Live and follow @C2030Europe for updates! Add this to your calendar. The Instagram Live is organised under the umbrella of the #AWorldWhere campaign aiming to drive Europe’s global commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, to meet Sustainable Development Goals targets, advance gender equality and strengthen health systems. #AWorldWhere is a Countdown 2030 Europe initiative driven by 15 leading European non-governmental organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive freedom worldwide. Illustration: Jessica Whitney Crowe

power
news_item

| 22 November 2023

Digital Fireside Chat on Combating Violence

Join us on Instagram on December 7 at 10.30am CET, to discuss how to achieve #AWorldWhere we are all free from gender-based violence together with Sonali Silva, SRHR activist and co-chair at SheDecides, Josephine Odhiambo, Program Lead at Youth Changers Kenya, and Esme Stuart, Programme Manager – Human Rights, Gender and Youth at the European Commission, DG INTPA. During this event, our guests will share their reflections on the challenges we face in combating gender-based violence globally and the solutions we have at our disposal to ensure we all live in a safer world. Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture with 1 in 3 women across the globe expected to experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. We know this number is higher in some places, affecting 2 in 3 women. We have a shared responsibility to help create more gender equal societies in which everyone is safe from harm and treated with dignity. We will also discuss how sexual and reproductive health and rights can be part of the solutions that we know are effective to prevent, protect and support survivors. What can you expect? We will be talking about the benefits of directly funding grassroot feminist organisations and movements that work to end gender-based violence and how our communities can change for the better if we work together to redesign systems so that they protect everyone. We will also be speaking about the role of the European Union in fighting gender-based violence globally. Join our Instagram Live and follow @C2030Europe for updates! Add this to your calendar. The Instagram Live is organised under the umbrella of the #AWorldWhere campaign aiming to drive Europe’s global commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, to meet Sustainable Development Goals targets, advance gender equality and strengthen health systems. #AWorldWhere is a Countdown 2030 Europe initiative driven by 15 leading European non-governmental organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive freedom worldwide. Illustration: Jessica Whitney Crowe

Illustration solidarity
news item

| 17 October 2023

Statement: Polish elections - The people vote for reproductive freedom and European values

IPPF EN strongly welcomes the result of Poland’s parliamentary elections, held on 15 October, in which opposition parties won a greater number of seats than the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Record turnout saw over 73% of women and 69% of young people cast their ballot, up 12% and 22% respectively compared to Poland’s last parliamentary elections in 2019. Queues at polling booths meant some people waited in line until 3am to vote. This defeat for PiS after eight years in government is a direct result of the 2020 Women’s Strike protests, when hundreds of thousands of Polish people expressed their outrage at the imposition of a near-total abortion ban, fatally weakening support for PiS’ cruel and anti-democratic regime. Ahead of the elections, Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Platform opposition party, pledged to legalise abortion care within the first 100 days of government, if elected. “The high turnout is all the more remarkable given PiS’s ever-increasing control of the media, most of the courts, the police and the military,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. “The strength of feeling among women and young people in particular is crystal clear. Tusk now has a clear popular mandate to take action on abortion care, and we look forward to seeing the opposition deliver on its promises to restore women’s reproductive rights,” added Donadio. The election result also confirms the strong commitment of the majority of Polish people to key European values such as democracy and the rule of law. It is extremely positive see Poland realign with the European Union and we look forward to seeing it take its place as a constructive partner alongside other European countries. “Poland’s change of course sends a much-needed, hopeful signal to all of Europe, and especially to citizens in Central Europe, in these turbulent times,” said Donadio.   *** Media contacts: enpress@ippf.org Irene Donadio: +32 (0) 491 719 390 *** Illustration: Izabela Markova, The Greats

Illustration solidarity
news_item

| 17 October 2023

Statement: Polish elections - The people vote for reproductive freedom and European values

IPPF EN strongly welcomes the result of Poland’s parliamentary elections, held on 15 October, in which opposition parties won a greater number of seats than the ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. Record turnout saw over 73% of women and 69% of young people cast their ballot, up 12% and 22% respectively compared to Poland’s last parliamentary elections in 2019. Queues at polling booths meant some people waited in line until 3am to vote. This defeat for PiS after eight years in government is a direct result of the 2020 Women’s Strike protests, when hundreds of thousands of Polish people expressed their outrage at the imposition of a near-total abortion ban, fatally weakening support for PiS’ cruel and anti-democratic regime. Ahead of the elections, Donald Tusk, leader of the Civic Platform opposition party, pledged to legalise abortion care within the first 100 days of government, if elected. “The high turnout is all the more remarkable given PiS’s ever-increasing control of the media, most of the courts, the police and the military,” said IPPF EN’s Irene Donadio. “The strength of feeling among women and young people in particular is crystal clear. Tusk now has a clear popular mandate to take action on abortion care, and we look forward to seeing the opposition deliver on its promises to restore women’s reproductive rights,” added Donadio. The election result also confirms the strong commitment of the majority of Polish people to key European values such as democracy and the rule of law. It is extremely positive see Poland realign with the European Union and we look forward to seeing it take its place as a constructive partner alongside other European countries. “Poland’s change of course sends a much-needed, hopeful signal to all of Europe, and especially to citizens in Central Europe, in these turbulent times,” said Donadio.   *** Media contacts: enpress@ippf.org Irene Donadio: +32 (0) 491 719 390 *** Illustration: Izabela Markova, The Greats

Image action against GBV
news item

| 25 September 2023

EU negotiations on bill to Combat Violence Against Women: Joint civil society position

In the final months of 2023, the EU institutions will hold a series of "trialogues" - negotiations between the EU Council (national governments), European Parliament and European Commission aiming to agree on the final wording of the draft EU Directive on Combating Violence Against Women. This is a crucial moment in the legislative process, since both the Council and the Parliament adopted their initial negotiating positions in June: MEPs voting to strengthen key provisions of the European Commission's ambitious original proposal, but Member States inexcusably proposing to water down vital elements of the bill, notably by failing to support the criminalisation of rape. At this key moment, IPPF EN and our civil society partners have prepared a joint position setting out a clear call to action to the EU institutions if they are to ensure this landmark proposal becomes a truly effective tool in our shared fight to end gender-based violence and create more gender equal societies for all. Download the joint position below.

Image action against GBV
news_item

| 25 September 2023

EU negotiations on bill to Combat Violence Against Women: Joint civil society position

In the final months of 2023, the EU institutions will hold a series of "trialogues" - negotiations between the EU Council (national governments), European Parliament and European Commission aiming to agree on the final wording of the draft EU Directive on Combating Violence Against Women. This is a crucial moment in the legislative process, since both the Council and the Parliament adopted their initial negotiating positions in June: MEPs voting to strengthen key provisions of the European Commission's ambitious original proposal, but Member States inexcusably proposing to water down vital elements of the bill, notably by failing to support the criminalisation of rape. At this key moment, IPPF EN and our civil society partners have prepared a joint position setting out a clear call to action to the EU institutions if they are to ensure this landmark proposal becomes a truly effective tool in our shared fight to end gender-based violence and create more gender equal societies for all. Download the joint position below.

Abortion
news item

| 22 September 2023

Ahead of International Safe Abortion Day, CSOs call for action

The European Safe Abortion Networking Group is a group of national, regional and international SRHR organisations based in Europe, working for universal access to safe, legal abortion. The group was formed in 2019 and has been meeting online bi-monthly since the Covid pandemic began. Many people assume everything is OK with abortion in Europe. And it’s true that most of the countries in the region have very good laws and services compared to the rest of the world and that much has improved over the last years with strong national advocacy campaigns, feminist-run clinics, and active support from a long list of political parties, human rights bodies and the World Health Organization. But we still have a long way to go to make abortions universally accessible to everyone who seeks them. In many of our countries, even those with good laws on paper, access in practice is far from perfect, and making change happen is a slow process. We are going through a period where anti-rights movements are posing a serious threat to abortion access across the region. Most European countries allow abortion on request in the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy - although not without any regulatory, practical or medically unnecessary obstacles. Access to second and especially third trimester abortions, however, can be very limited and hemmed in with conditions, restrictions and requiring third party approval (doctors, parents), even though later abortions are so few and needed in the most desperate of situations. In a number of countries, abortion is still in the penal code, which permits legal systems to prosecute individuals for having or providing abortions, and also adds to stigma and discrimination. Moreover, there are still countries where most or all abortions are illegal, including Malta, Andorra and Poland, and where women are compelled to seek abortions outside the law - especially the growing numbers using pills but not under a clinician’s control. Women having abortions, and advocates for abortion rights are being prosecuted too, in Poland, Andorra, Malta and England. Almost invisibly, across the whole panorama of legal and clinical restrictions, thousands of women are still having to travel within and between countries to get abortions, often supported by under-resourced grassroots organisations and collectives instead of being supported by the State. The pandemic years made many things more difficult. Medical abortion pills were scarce in some countries and still are - and some countries still do not even allow abortion pills at all (e.g. Slovakia, Hungary). Travel across borders for abortions, especially later abortions, obviously became more difficult. On the other hand, some countries have approved the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion with pills up to some point in the first trimester and it has now become a permanent option in some countries (such as France and the UK) and is well-established as an option within the care pathway in Ireland. Here are some of the most important legal and service-related changes and improvements we are calling for and will campaign for in our countries and across the region going forward: Complete decriminalisation of abortion in all countries, both as a harm reduction strategy to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity but also to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, bodily autonomy and voluntary motherhood. Universal access to safe, legal abortions, as early as possible and for as long as needed, with choice of method. Self-managed abortion with pills up to 12 weeks should be allowed in all countries as recommended by the World Health Organization. Statement and Call for Action by the European Safe Abortion Networking Group for International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September 2023 Approval of combined medical abortion pills, and approval of misoprostol as an abortifacient, in all countries. Medical abortion pills are a very safe method, not only in the first trimester but also for later abortion, and are on the WHO Essential Medicines List. All countries should implement the 2022 World Health Organization Abortion Care guidelines including training for the range of health care providers, including pharmacists, who can provide services. Increase access to abortion beyond 12 weeks through training and education for midwives, nurses and doctors. Policies must be gender inclusive, that is, applying to women, girls and all people who can become pregnant and who seek an abortion.  

Abortion
news_item

| 22 September 2023

Ahead of International Safe Abortion Day, CSOs call for action

The European Safe Abortion Networking Group is a group of national, regional and international SRHR organisations based in Europe, working for universal access to safe, legal abortion. The group was formed in 2019 and has been meeting online bi-monthly since the Covid pandemic began. Many people assume everything is OK with abortion in Europe. And it’s true that most of the countries in the region have very good laws and services compared to the rest of the world and that much has improved over the last years with strong national advocacy campaigns, feminist-run clinics, and active support from a long list of political parties, human rights bodies and the World Health Organization. But we still have a long way to go to make abortions universally accessible to everyone who seeks them. In many of our countries, even those with good laws on paper, access in practice is far from perfect, and making change happen is a slow process. We are going through a period where anti-rights movements are posing a serious threat to abortion access across the region. Most European countries allow abortion on request in the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy - although not without any regulatory, practical or medically unnecessary obstacles. Access to second and especially third trimester abortions, however, can be very limited and hemmed in with conditions, restrictions and requiring third party approval (doctors, parents), even though later abortions are so few and needed in the most desperate of situations. In a number of countries, abortion is still in the penal code, which permits legal systems to prosecute individuals for having or providing abortions, and also adds to stigma and discrimination. Moreover, there are still countries where most or all abortions are illegal, including Malta, Andorra and Poland, and where women are compelled to seek abortions outside the law - especially the growing numbers using pills but not under a clinician’s control. Women having abortions, and advocates for abortion rights are being prosecuted too, in Poland, Andorra, Malta and England. Almost invisibly, across the whole panorama of legal and clinical restrictions, thousands of women are still having to travel within and between countries to get abortions, often supported by under-resourced grassroots organisations and collectives instead of being supported by the State. The pandemic years made many things more difficult. Medical abortion pills were scarce in some countries and still are - and some countries still do not even allow abortion pills at all (e.g. Slovakia, Hungary). Travel across borders for abortions, especially later abortions, obviously became more difficult. On the other hand, some countries have approved the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion with pills up to some point in the first trimester and it has now become a permanent option in some countries (such as France and the UK) and is well-established as an option within the care pathway in Ireland. Here are some of the most important legal and service-related changes and improvements we are calling for and will campaign for in our countries and across the region going forward: Complete decriminalisation of abortion in all countries, both as a harm reduction strategy to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity but also to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, bodily autonomy and voluntary motherhood. Universal access to safe, legal abortions, as early as possible and for as long as needed, with choice of method. Self-managed abortion with pills up to 12 weeks should be allowed in all countries as recommended by the World Health Organization. Statement and Call for Action by the European Safe Abortion Networking Group for International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September 2023 Approval of combined medical abortion pills, and approval of misoprostol as an abortifacient, in all countries. Medical abortion pills are a very safe method, not only in the first trimester but also for later abortion, and are on the WHO Essential Medicines List. All countries should implement the 2022 World Health Organization Abortion Care guidelines including training for the range of health care providers, including pharmacists, who can provide services. Increase access to abortion beyond 12 weeks through training and education for midwives, nurses and doctors. Policies must be gender inclusive, that is, applying to women, girls and all people who can become pregnant and who seek an abortion.