Timor-Leste: Alola Foundation and UNFPA launch report on unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions

Dili, 09 June, 2009 - The improvement in the quality of life of Timorese women and their families is the objective that Alola Foundation, supported by UNFPA, expects after launching the report, "Maternal Mortality, Unplanned Pregnancy and Unsafe Abortion in Timor-Leste: A Situation Analysis." The launch of this publication took place on Tuesday 3 June at the Alola Foundation installation, and was attended by Kirsty Gusmao, Chairwoman of Fundasaun Alola, Dr. Hernando Agudelo, UNFPA Country Representative and Eng. Idelta Maria Rodrigues, Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality (SEPI).

This research, carried out by the Charles Darwin University with the endorsement of the Ministries of Justice and Health, will offer to the Government and to the people in Timor-Leste tangible facts regarding the occurrence and practice of unsafe abortion in the country.

"With this study in Timor-Leste, we wanted to show this reality -women may die because of unsafe abortion- within the Timorese society and give to the society a tool for reflection, for taking informed decisions at this point time of its history where the parliament and the government were taking the decision on how to deal with this controversial issue, this study shows that there are unwanted pregnancies and therefore a necessity to ensure country wide access to Family Planning services" added Dr. Agudelo.

Due to their continuous work debating on the issues of abortion and the reproductive health of mothers, Alola and other women's organizations have been branded as pro-abortion by certain institutions in the country. Ms. Kirsty Gusmao, in her speech referring to this regard, specifically after the publication of this report, appoints: "Such public defamation is inappropriate and offensive to our organizations which have worked tirelessly to free the women of Timor-Leste from a life of violence, ignorance, poor health and poverty... We must not turn a blind eye to the reality of women's lives, to their sexuality, to their experiences of violence in their homes and communities, just because the reality does not sit nicely with the image of Timorese culture we would like portray to the world."

This publication will be used as an advocacy tool in lobbying for women's full access to quality medical care and family planning services and the full realization of their reproductive rights.

For more information, contact Mariano Redondo, UNFPA, Tel: +670 7346517, Email: redondo@unfpa.org
Alita Verdial - Alola Foundation, Tel: +670 7239337, Email: alita.adv@alolafoundation.org