Being Culturally Sensitive in One’s Pursuits

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I’ve written before about abortion rights and about the dangers of preventing women from exercising reproductive choice: It’s simple – they resort to illegal means.

Despite my belief in offering a choice, articles about Women on Waves‘s latest attempt to enter Morocco, disgusted me. And let me be clear: I’m disgusted by their attempt, not by the government’s refusal to allow them entrance.

This was posted by PostSecret.com (one of my favorite sites/projects). Abortion-themed PostSecrets are quite common. Click for more.

Women on Waves is a group that promotes safe, legal abortions and has traveled to several countries to administer the necessary medications for it.

Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country where abortion is illegal unless it is to save the mother’s life – this is similar to many countries, including Syria and Afghanistan (did you know that Chile does not allow abortions for any reason?).

So when Women on Waves sailed towards Morocco, they were reportedly not planning on performing any medical interventions, but simply to “promote the idea of safe medical abortions.”

And still, I am disappointed that they would charge into a country and try to force their beliefs down another country’s throat. My class was recently compelled to attend a class regarding “World Views”. We were annoyed because the lecturer generalised different views terribly, and managed to insult many students of the Muslim and African Traditional persuasion (and the rest of us to some extent).

The gist of it was that one cannot simply prescribe a way of life to a group of people without understanding their context and their beliefs. It’s as simple as that, and WoW‘s behaviour seems to be inconsiderate of cultural views as well as rather arrogant. On their website they describe “sneaking” into the country to lobby for safer laws – in the process giving themselves extremely poor reputations.

Some further context: According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, contraception is legal in Morocco despite some religious opposition. An estimated 42% married women currently utilise contraceptive methods. However, illegal abortions are still used by some as a “contraceptive” method, and mortality due to illegal abortions is high.

While I do not wish a woman to have a child she does not want, I feel that a more respectable route should have been followed. It is professional and common courtesy to discuss such matters up front, and I do not understand how people who reportedly feel so passionate about a cause could not respectably request a meeting with government officials to discuss the detrimental effects of current policies. Moroccan officials have already been shown to be concerned with female reproductive health by allowing contraception and medically-indicated abortions.

As before, I am not entering into a religiously-based debate and by no means intend to change anybody’s stance about abortions. I do, however, feel that WoW went about matters in a completely unacceptable fashion. Understanding a situation rather than blindly lambasting a community should be the order of the day.

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