We, the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), stand for equality. We oppose patriarchy and all forms of gendercide, including through non-medically motivated sex selective abortions. In order to prevent gendercide, we work to end patriarchy and to change the mind-set of practicing communities that value females less than males.

We believe that every woman has the right to make free choices about her own body, including regarding reproduction. We oppose discrimination against women’s equal access to reproductive rights on the grounds of their ethnicity.

We know that non-medically motivated sex selective abortion is mainly practiced within Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and that most take place under duress from the woman’s partner, in-laws,  family and community members. The pressure on many BME women to produce sons is the main force behind sex selective abortion.

The safeguarding and support of every woman who seeks an abortion is of paramount importance. Before undertaking an abortion, every woman must be informed of her rights and have access to any practical and mental health support that she, and should she chose not to proceed with the abortion, her child(ren) need, immediately at that time and into her or their future. In recent years, crucial support for women, including refuge provision, and legal aid have been endangered by funding cuts; policies that must be reversed.

We oppose the proposed amendments to the legislation around abortion which we believe are ill thought out and if enacted will be detrimental to women, whilst failing to tackle the perpetrators who pressurise women into sex selective abortion.

We are concerned that if enacted, the proposed changes could deter women who are under pressure to have a sex selective abortion from approaching legal, regulated abortion clinics or GP’s, which would prevent them from accessing the crucial safeguarding and support measures they provide.

We believe that if the proposed law were to be enacted, that some women, who would not be able to get a safe, legal, regulated abortion, would elect or be forced by perpetrators to proceed with unsafe abortions and may suffer lifelong physical and mental health impacts.

We are opposed to the criminalisation of women who undergo abortions. Instead these women who are victims in these cases should be provided with the support that they need.

We are concerned that should the legislation be enacted, women who have undergone an abortion that could be considered illegal, could be at risk of control and blackmail by perpetrators of “honour” based violence and domestic violence.

We urge MP’s to vote against proposed amendments to the Serious Crime Bill on sex selective abortion on Monday 23 February 2015.

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