SOLOMON ISLANDS – Women’s health report on unsafe abortion

On 20 October 2022, the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) launched a women’s health report that highlighted the determinants, practices and consequences of unsafe abortion in the Solomon Islands, documenting a serious public health issue.“Though the report is on unsafe abortion, that is the last stage. We all need to work together to ensure that our women, our girls, our future have access to sexual and reproductive health. SIPPA cannot do it alone – we need your help, if our people have access to the right information and right services then we won’t have many cases of unsafe abortion” Ben Agoa, SIPPA Executive Director.Through interviews with health workers, focus group discussions with young people and inpatient data collection from the National Referral Hospital (NRH), the major findings of the study were as follows:

  • Unwanted pregnancy is common and occurs in the context of gendered norms about sex and contraception that limit women’s ability to access and to use contraception, and to negotiate consensual sex.
  • In the absence of safe abortion services, women resort to a range of unsafe methods to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, including customary medicine, self-harm and use of misoprostol in the absence of adequate information or support if needed.
  • In addition, a pregnancy may be unwanted because the girl or woman is not married, or does not want to marry the man who she became pregnant with, and vice versa. She will face stigma and discrimination as an unmarried mother and may be forced to pay compensation to her family if she continues with the pregnancy. She cannot pursue her secondary or, sometimes, tertiary education or her working life if she continues with the pregnancy, or she cannot support a child.

During the launch, a panel discussion also took place where participants from relevant authorities, government departments and organisations were able to give feedback and highlight areas where collaboration can take place to ensure Solomon Islands women and girls have access to the right information and services. In attendance were representatives from Save the Children, UNICEF, DFAT, MFAT, Young Women’s Christian Association, Ministry of Education and Human Resources Management, Solomon Islands National Council of Women, Law Reform, and Director of Prosecutions and Police.

SOURCE: Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association press release. Scoop World, 21 October 2022. PHOTO: