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"Abortion Ship" Blocked From Morocco In First Attempt In Muslim Nation



SMIR - A Dutch boat that provides abortions to women on the high seas has reached the edge of Morocco’s territorial waters, and was being blocked Thursday from further progress toward the North African shore by a warship, according to the AFP.

The NGO “Women on Waves” says it works to “prevent unsafe abortions and unwanted pregnancies by providing sexual health services including early medical abortions with pills, on board a Dutch ship outside the territorial waters of countries where abortion is illegal,” according to its website.

The founder Women on Waves, Rebecca Gomperts, says that 85 women a day die in Morocco as a consequence of illegal abortions—78 a year, according to Courrier de l’Atlas, a French Moroccan website.

Abortion is completely banned by Moroccan law. To get an abortion to save a woman’s life, written permission must be given by the head physician of the province or prefecture. If the abortion is to protect a woman’s health, her husband must agree to it, reports the Moroccan newspaper Le Soir-Les Echos, which estimates that 800 women have illegal abortions every day in the kingdom.

Helping a woman with an abortion is punishable with up to five years in prison, and the woman herself can go to jail for up to two years. To call attention to the situation, the Moroccan group MALI (Alternative Movement for Individual Liberty) invited Women on Waves to the Moroccan port of Smir, reports BBC Afrique.

The Moroccan health ministry says it was not informed of the arrival of the ship, calling upon the authorities to “do what is necessary to make sure the law is observed,” according to the Moroccan news agency MAP.

Women on Waves offers a hotline and website for women in countries where abortion is illegal. Two doctors aboard the ship perform abortions only up to 6 1/2 weeks of a pregnancy, carrying out the procedure in international waters where national laws against abortion do not apply. The ship has already carried out actions in Poland, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, but this is the first time it has sailed to an Islamic country.

Le Soir Les Echos reported Thursday that a source in the Moroccan government spokesman’s office called for the media to ignore the “non-event” in favor of “priority questions.”

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Fighting The Russian Army's Systematic Campaign Of Sexual Violence In Ukraine

Hundreds of sexual crimes have been officially reported in Ukraine following the full-scale invasion by the Russian army, though the actual number is likely 10 times higher. Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg explores how the nation is documenting the crimes and responding to support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

Photo of a psychologist speaking with trauma victims sat on a bench in a park

Natalia Potseluieva (right), a trauma-focused psychologist, working with rape victims

Anna Steshenko

KYIV — Let's start with the official numbers. Since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February 2022, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has recorded 231 instances of conflict-related sexual violence. The aggressors target all demographic groups: men, women, children, and the elderly.

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Behind the official statistics are disturbing details, with 149 cases involving women and 82 cases involving men. Thirteen of the victims were minors, with 12 being girls and one a boy who also bore witness to his mother being raped. The youngest victim is 4 years old, while the oldest survivor is an 82-year-old female pensioner.

And these are only the officially documented cases. The actual number is likely to be 10 times higher.

Survivors often hesitate to speak out due to fear, trauma, and the social stigma attached to such incidents. This is changing, however, as more survivors of sexual abuse are coming forward to share their stories and receive the comprehensive legal, humanitarian, psychological, and medical support they need.

Mass sexual assault occurs wherever the Russian occupiers set foot. Most cases of sexual crimes have been documented in the de-occupied territories of the Kherson region. Following that are the Donetsk (55), Kyiv (52), Kharkiv (21), Zaporizhzhia (15), Chernihiv (5), Luhansk (3), and Sumy (2) regions.

“Ukraine needs to liberate its occupied territories to be able to work with all the victims,” says Iryna Didenko, who heads the Department of the Office of the Prosecutor General investigating such crimes.

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