ARROW Statement condemning the imprisonment of a 15-year-old girl in Indonesia for having an abortion

July 26, 2018 shutterstock_373465696

ARROW and partners strongly condemn the six-month imprisonment of a 15-year-old girl in Indonesia for having an abortion, after she became pregnant due to being repeatedly raped by her older brother.[1] Restrictive abortion laws in Indonesia only permit abortion to either save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, but only within the first six weeks of pregnancy.[2] This 15-year-old-girl not only had to undergo the trauma of sexual violence inflicted upon her by a family member, but also had to go through the ordeal of an illegal and most likely unsafe abortion after getting pregnant, because it fell outside the incredibly short window of six weeks, when abortion is legal on the grounds of rape and incest in Indonesia. Six weeks is calculated from last menstrual period (LMP), which is essentially missing one period – a common occurrence for most women and girls and a time too short to detect pregnancy.

This 15-year-old girl is not a criminal. And yet, she is one of the many women and girls around the world who face a jail term for simply trying to access their reproductive right. Research has consistently indicated that banning or severely restricting abortion does not reduce the incidents of abortion. Instead, it affects the safety of the procedure[3] leading to both an increase in mortality and morbidity. According to the Indonesian Health Ministry, abortions constitute 30 to 50 per cent of Indonesia’s total number of maternal deaths.[4] Restrictive legal frameworks driven by moral and religious arguments[5] also seep into the psyche of society further entrenching abortion into a web of stigma, which makes it very difficult for women and especially girls to access abortion information and services, even when it is legal.[6]

Adolescent girls are more vulnerable, especially in the absence of the availability of comprehensive sexuality education, to sexual violence and pregnancies and STIs including HIV as a result of sexual violence. Adolescent girls also are unaware of their rights and unfortunately are usually powerless to negotiate within their families and communities, and to seek recognition for the wrongs that have been perpetrated against them.

In the situation of this particular adolescent girl, she bears the burden of being a rape survivor, and an incest survivor. A pregnancy as a result of her rape only further compounds her vulnerabilities. In such a situation, the procurement of abortion services should be seen as therapeutic to her situation.

Minor children need protection, not imprisonment. #SafeAbortionNOW


Endorsed by:

  1. Asian- Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
  2. Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, Pakistan
  3. Federation of Reproductive Health Association Malaysia (FRHAM)
  4. YUWA, Nepal
  5. The YP Foundation, India
  6. LOOM, Nepal
  7. Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Philippines
  8. Centre for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP), Vietnam
  9. Solidarity Alliance for the Right to Safe Abortion
  10. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
  11. Naripokkho, Bangladesh
  12. Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Nepal
  13. CommonHealth, India
  14. Reproductive Health Association Cambodia (RHAC)
  15. Philippines Safe Abortion Advocacy (Pisan)
  16. Young Advocates for SRHR
  17. Rural Women’s Social Education Centre (RUWSEC), India
  18. Gramin Punarnirman Sansthan, India
  19. Sahayog, India
  20. Society for Health Education (SHE), Maldives
  21. Faculty of Postgraduate Studies, University Health Science, Lao PDR
  22. Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan (YJP), Indonesia
  23. RHRN Indonesia
  24. Aliansi Remaja Independent (ARI), Indonesia
  25. Aliansi Satu Visi (ASV), Indonesia
  26. Ardhanary Institute (AI), Indonesia
  27. Fokus Muda, Indonesia
  28. Perkumpulan Keluarga Berencana Indonesia (PKBI)
  29. Perkumpulan Pamflet Generasi, Indonesia
  30. Pusat Kajian Gender dan Seksualitas (Puksa Genseks) UI, Indonesia
  31. Rutgers WFP Indonesia
  32. Sanggar SWARA, Indonesia
  33. Yayasan Kesehatan Perempuan (YKP), Indonesia
  34. Forum Remaja Independen Papua (FRIP), Indonesia
  35. Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS), Indonesia
  36. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Global
  37. Bangladesh Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion (BAPSA), Bangladesh
  38. Society for Health Alternatives (SAHAJ), India



[2] Fanny Tanuwijaya, Abortion on Law and Moral Perspectives in Indonesia, Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, (2014), Vol. 28, ISSN 2224-3259

[3] Camila Gianella-Malca and Liv Tonnessen, Health effects of criminalisation of abortion, Conference Paper, GLOBVAC Conference 2015


[5] Ibid.

[6] Cockrill K, Herold S, Blanchard K, Grossman D, Upadyay U, Baum S. Addressing abortion stigma through service delivery: A white paper, 2015, Ibis Reproductive Health

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