El Salvador’s abortion ban
El Salvador has a total ban on abortion. No matter how old the woman or girl; the circumstances under which she became pregnant; or if continuing the pregnancy could risk her health, she can’t have an abortion.
Many women and girls are dying or being imprisoned due to the ban. Women who miscarry have been accused of homicide and even rape victims are denied a termination.
Current laws force women and girls to resort to unsafe abortions to save their lives. Women who experience complications during pregnancy have been prosecuted and convicted on charges of ‘induced abortion’ – a charge that carries a jail sentence of up to 40 years.
But for the first time since 1998 there is a chance to overturn this law, which causes unnecessary pain and suffering for thousands of women and children.
Lawmakers will soon be debating changes to the law that, if passed, would see women given the right to have an abortion under certain circumstances, such as if the pregnancy is threatening her health, or if the foetus would not be able to survive outside the womb.
How you can help
1. Speak up
Amnesty International is asking the international community to sign a petition urging Salvadorian authorities to put an end to the criminalisation of abortion and to comply with their international human rights obligations.
You can sign the petition here.
Doctors in Syria have had to resort to crowdfunding to raise the money for underground hospitals and hospitals built in caves, according to a report released this week.
Medical staff and facilities are systematically targetted in Syria, on a scale that is unprecedented in modern history.
During the last six months of 2016, says the Syria Campaign’s report, the rate of attacks on healthcare increased dramatically. In April 2017 alone, there were 25 attacks on medical facilities, or one attack every 29 hours.
The result is that more than half of all public medical facilities in Syria have been forced to close or have been rendered useless.
‘Each day, we fear that barrel bombs, airstrikes and chemical attacks will target our hospitals… It is we, as Syrian medics, who have treated patients under bombings. When victims pour into our hospitals after barrel bombs drop on nearby neighbourhoods, we have to choose which children will live or die. It is our colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters, who we fear for each day.’
The Syria Campaign’s report.
To keep themselves and their patients safe from attack, they have shifted their operations and trauma care into basements, underground and into caves.
But international donor governments haven’t adapted their funding to suit the Syrian medics’ solution, because of a divide between emergency humanitarian funds and funds for development of new infrastructure.
‘Donors often see the reinforcement and building of underground medical facilities exclusively as long-term aid, or development work. However, as the Syria crisis is classified as a protracted emergency conflict, medical organisations do not currently have access to such long-term funds…
The divide between emergency humanitarian and development funding is creating a gap for projects that bridge the two, like protective measures for hospitals in Syria. Medics are paying the price.’
The Syria Campaign’s report
How you can help
One of the latest hospitals to use crowdfunding is the Avicenna Women and Children’s Hospital in Idlib City, Syria, championed by Khaled Al-Milaji, head of the Sustainable International Medical Relief Organisation.
Al-Milaji is working to raise funds alongside colleagues from Brown University in the United States, where he studied until his visa was revoked as he returned from a holiday in Turkey.
The hospital is 75 per cent finished, but it still needs $750,000 (£583,000) to finish rehabilitation and for medical equipment. While it may receive operational support from the World Health Organisation in the future, the hospital needs private funding to start running.
The team behind the hospital are asking for donations through Refugee Protection International, the NGO partner of SIMRO, also known as the Canadian International Medical Relief Organisation.
You can donate and find out more here.
Fundraising is one of the best ways to help Syrians in need, whether through your school, university, church, mosque, synagogue or place of work.
The charity Hand in Hand for Syria has put together a fundraising pack full of ideas to help inspire you to start, and they will also help promote and advertise your event, and may even provide a speaker.
You can find out more about fundraising here.
It’s extremely unlikely that any organisation would send international volunteers into a conflict zone like Syria, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to volunteer your time and skills.
Hand in Hand For Syria has a number of ways that you can help, even if you can’t afford to donate money to their projects.
As the situation is always changing, the opportunities that they can offer volunteers are always changing too. But these are some of the more common areas where you could help make a difference.
- Help out in the office, from administration through to marketing
- Offer your skills to help, from photography to leafleting
- Online, particularly if you have a large following on social media
- Volunteering in person at their events
You can find out more about volunteering here
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