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US Urged to Change Policy on Support to Victims of Sexual Violence

Ramy Srour - Inter Press Service
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December 19, 2013

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is being urged to roll back a longstanding policy that has banned foreign aid funding from being used for health care services for victims of sexual violence in conflict situations.

A group of leading U.S. and African NGOs gathered Wednesday to launch a global campaign that, if successful, would provide millions of women and girls in crisis and conflict areas around the world with post-rape access to comprehensive health care.

The Centre for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), an advocacy group, was joined by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch in calling on the administration of President Barack Obama to clarify or repeal four-decade-old legislation, known as the Helms Amendment, that forbids U.S. foreign aid recipients from using this funding to perform abortions “as a method of family planning.”

“The 1973 Helms Amendment is a law that says no funds are allowed for abortions overseas as a matter of family planning – full stop,” Serra Sippel, the president of CHANGE, told IPS. “But when we talk about abortion in the case of rape, that’s not family planning, so the law [actually] doesn’t forbid foreign assistance to pay for these cases.”

Read the rest at Inter Press Service

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