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Good News Stories - January 2021

© Content via Amnesty International & BBC

Argentina
Amnesty International welcomes an historic vote in favour of legal abortion in Aregentina and urges its full approval. The preliminary approval of the bill on the voluntary termination of pregnancy passed 11 th December by Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies. This is a landmark achievement for the recognition of the human rights of women, girls and others who can
become pregnant. The bill will now pass to the Senate, which has an opportunity to make history by passing the law and bringing an end to clandestine abortions in the country. Almost 40,000 women are treated in hospital after botched illegal procedures.

Mariela Belski, Executive director of Amnesty International Argentina said “This is an achievement of the women’s movement and a demand from different social groups who have never given up on the cause. The Senate cannot afford to turn its back on women once again and must press forward to pass the law, without further delay. Legal abortion is an imperative for social justice, for reproductive justice and for human rights. The debate of the past few years has been very positive and has succeeded in making visible the failure of the criminalization of women as a state policy. The Senate must now put an end to clandestine abortions. The legalization of abortion saves lives and addresses a key public health issue”.

The bill, which received 131 votes in favour, 117 against and 6 abstentions, decriminalizes and legalizes abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Once this period has passed, abortion would continue to be legal in cases of risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman or in cases of rape. The bill is in keeping with the fulfilment of the commitments that the Argentine state has undertaken with respect to public health and human rights.
Argentina - an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation - will become the largest country in the region to legalise abortion. In the last 25 years, more than 50 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, China, South Africa and Uruguay have amended their legislation on
abortion, recognizing that access to safe abortion is fundamental for the protection of women and girls’ rights, life, health and autonomy.  Read more here...

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South Korea
Abortion is no longer a crime in South Korea. Laws criminalising abortion had been in place for 67 years. Before this, women and medical providers could be fined or even jailed over abortion.

About 50,000 women and girls have abortions in South Korea each year – most were considered illegal. But now people seeking abortions, and those assisting them, can no longer be punished.

Women’s Rights Groups spent years campaigning for the change. But their work is no over yet... barriers remain to accessing safe abortions in the country. There is limited information about abortions and a lack of regulations ensuring safe access to abortion. Stigmatisation of those who need, provide or assist with abortions must also end.

Read more here...
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UK
Activists cheer as 'sexist' tampon tax is scrapped. The 5% rate of VAT on sanitary products - referred to as the "tampon tax" – has been abolished in the UK from 1 January. EU law required members to tax tampons and sanitary towels at 5%, treating period products as non-essential.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to scrapping the tax in his March Budget. The Treasury has estimated the move will save the average woman nearly £40 over her lifetime, with a cut of 7p on a pack of 20 tampons and 5p on 12 pads. 

Felicia Willow, chief executive of women's rights charity the Fawcett Society responded: "It's been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books."

Campaigners welcomed the end to what they called a "sexist tax" with activist Laura Coryton saying it was "about ending a symptom of sexism". The UK was able to get rid of the tax now because it is no longer subject to European Union rules on sanitary products. The EU is itself in the process of abolishing the tampon tax. In 2018 the European Commission published proposals to change the VAT rules, which would give countries the right to stop taxing tampons and other period products, but the move has not yet been agreed by all members. The Republic of Ireland has zero VAT on sanitary products as the rate was in place prior to EU legislation imposing the 5% minimum VAT rate on EU members.  Read more here...

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