Emergency contraception helps displaced women exert control over their reproductive lives
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EC plays an important role in responding to rape
Florence, 45, had been collecting firewood deep in the forest with her 13-year-old daughter and two women friends, ages 36 and 43. They had knowingly ventured beyond the legal camp boundary which was controlled by a UN military unit in search of firewood. During the walk home, the women were attacked and stripped naked. All were gang raped for several hours. Florence came to the camp health center, which was managed by the American Refugee Committee (ARC), because she had sustained a large machete wound to her hip. During her consultation with the doctor, she related her ordeal. ARC had a confidentiality protocol already in place at the health center for such cases, which was put into practice. Florence received immediate counseling and agreed to continue coming to the health center for counseling if she so wished. She also decided she wanted antibiotics in the event she had contracted an STI and ECPs even though she was 45 years old. All information concerning the attack was related on to UN security anonymously. Florence encouraged her daughter and friends to visit the ARC health center, which they did. They each received treatment and ECPs to avoid becoming pregnant and none of them had an unwanted pregnancy. Florence's daughter received counseling for many weeks.
EC as a back-up plan to method failure
Anna is a 31-year-old internally displaced woman. She had sex one night with her husband, but the condom broke. Already caring for three children, the couple did not want to have any more. Because of transportation problems, she was not able to reach the clinic until three days later and did not think there was anything she could do to prevent a pregnancy. However, upon arrival she was told that she was still in time to use EC if she wanted to prevent a pregnancy. Anna decided to use an ECP and was able to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
EC should be available to women unable to negotiate condom use
Fatmeh is an 18-year-old refugee. She had unprotected sex with an older man, whom she has been seeing in exchange for food and money. They had always used a condom before, but the man refused this time and offered her more money if they did not use a condom. Fatmeh did not want to become pregnant. She asked a friend to go with her to the local clinic. The doctor at the clinic told her she could use EC to reduce her risk of becoming pregnant. Fatmeh chose an IUD and decided to use this as her regular method of contraception, too. The doctor counseled her that this method would not protect her from STIs. Fatmeh was successful in preventing an unplanned pregnancy; however her future – like that of many women refugees – is uncertain because she must depend on others for her survival needs.
Updated December 2010. Please note: while this site is periodically updated, it is up to the user’s discretion to verify that the facts provided are the most current.
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