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Indonesia prepares rules on abortion for rape victims

Publication Date : 15-08-2014

 

Indonesia's Health Ministry is preparing supporting regulations to ensure that the legalisation of abortion for rape victims and those with life threatening medical conditions will not be misused and abused.

Minister Nafsiah Mboi said the derivative guidelines to implement the newly issued Government Regulation No. 61/2014 on reproductive health would set a standard mechanism for the process and training programs for health workers and other relevant officers, including those in local areas.

“[These rules are] to guarantee that abortion will be used under strict circumstances because both the [health] law and the [government] regulation say abortion is prohibited except under the two circumstances,” Nafsiah said on Wednesday.

In late July, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the government regulation in line with the 2009 Health Law.

Under the new regulation, a rape victim has the right to have an abortion, which can only be performed by a certified doctor at an established healthcare facility, and with the consent of a doctor and a statement from an investigator, psychologist or other experts.

The regulation also stipulates that an abortion may only be done within 40 days since the first day of the victim’s last period.

It also states that rape victims should receive protection in terms of physical and mental health, including the provision of legal measures.

Under the new regulation, the central government shares the responsibility with local administrations at the provincial, regency and municipal level to ensure the reproductive rights of women, including the provision of facilities and health workers as well as designing programs and education.

Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Gumelar — who praised the new regulation as a step forward in ensuring women’s rights — said the ministries would ensure that correct implementation was feasible in all regions.

“It is the era of regional autonomy. Therefore, local administrations must study [the regulation]. They may also issue a local decree,” she said on Wednesday.

Gumelar argued that local policies would not go against the government regulation and the law despite the diverse differences between each area.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has welcomed the new regulation for giving clear guidelines for ensuring women’s health and reproductive rights and establishing a proper mechanism on abortion for rape victims.

It also praised the new guidelines for outlining preventive measures, as well as providing more access to information and education on reproductive health for teenagers and women in general.

Women’s activist Indri Oktaviani, however, criticized the new policy for having a tendency to guide perception about morality.

“Victims of rape cases must prove themselves to be rape victims, when in many cases, proving such a crime takes a long time,” she said.

 

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