According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year 22 million abortions are performed in unsafe conditions around the world, leading to the deaths of 47 thousand women and causing physical and mental harm in other 5 million women. 98% of all illegal and unsafe abortions happen in the Global South. In Brazil, according to the Ministry of Health, 1,25 million abortions are performed illegally every year. A recent research by the University of Brasília (UnB) and ANIS, more than 1 in every 5 literate women, aged between 18 and 39 yo, have done at least one abortion during their lives. About half of them had to be hospitalized due to complications, like uterus perforation. Among illiterate women, the percentage is even higher. This is the 5th cause of mortality associated with motherhood in Brazil.

In Brazil, abortion not only is illegal, it is also considered a crime. It’s only legalized in three scenarios: when the pregnancy was the result of rape, when terminating the pregnancy is the only way to save the mother’s life and when the fetus was diagnosed as anencephalus. In any of these scenarios, a woman can go to one of the 65 public clinics in the country that are allowed to perform the procedure. In 2013 the Ministry of Health only registered 1,523 cases of legal abortion (0.12% of the estimated total of abortions).The other 98,8% had to resort to unprescribed medicine or to an illegal abortion clinic – which often results in complications or even death.

Some of the reasons a woman decides to have an abortion are financial insecurity, emotional immaturity to care for a child, and lack of access to information and to contraceptive methods. This problem affects mostly black and poor women – since middle class women have access to more secure, yet illegal clinics, and pay up to R$4000 for the procedure (more than 4 times higher than the current minimum wage per month).

In addition, the recent Zika virus outbreak, associated with the increased number of babies born with microcephaly and the consequent increase of abandoned pregnant women and new mothers by their partners, adds urgency to an informed discussion about the legalization of abortion. More pressure must be put on the government and more people need to be engaged in the discussion.

That’s what Instituto Promundo has been trying to do. They are a global non-profit organization, that works to promote gender equality and prevent gender based violence, by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls. They believe that working with men and boys to transform harmful gender norms and unequal power dynamics is a critical part of the solution to achieve gender equality. This is also true when it comes to legalization of abortion. Men make up more than 80% of the Senate and the Congress.

Promundo understands that legalizing the abortion will be a long road. But they believe that each new person who is convinced of the importance of the legalization mean yet another step in the right direction. This TIE placement will hopefully create new tools to foment the discussion and engage more people in the fight for the legalization of abortion and for the reproductive rights of men and women.