Women faced higher rates of unplanned pregnancies in Northern Rivers floods

The February 2022 floods in northern NSW saw women experiencing higher rates of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, new research has found.

According to a report from the University of Newcastle, women in the Northern Rivers were subjected to high levels of violence and sexual assaults, resulting in unplanned pregnancies.

The researchers – Associate Professor Wendy Foote, Professor Margaret Alston, Dr David Betts and Dr Tracy McEwan – said the emergency centres established in response to the floods did not adequately consider the safety of women and children.

They suggested separation of men and women and children in emergency centres, as well as more triaging, would have avoided the increased rates of gender-based violence and sexual assaults.

Head of Policy and Research at MSI Australia Bonney Corbin told Women’s Agenda unplanned and unwanted pregnancies can often go unnoticed during times of crisis, including during climate-related disasters.

“There’s an assumption that we don’t have sex when we’re displaced, but the evidence shows that both rape and sexual activity increases in times of emergency,” Corbin said.

“When we are displaced, we lose routine, and we’re more likely to forget where we are at in our menstrual cycle. Pregnancy can go unnoticed.

“Dissociation following sexual violence and rape can mean that victim-survivors delay making choices about their pregnancy.”

Source: Women faced higher rates of unplanned pregnancies in Northern Rivers floods

One thought on “Women faced higher rates of unplanned pregnancies in Northern Rivers floods”

  1. As we know, this occurred during Covid 19 lockdowns – the rate of criminal assault at home and other forms of domestic violence rising exponentially. We also know that the lockdowns impeded women and girls’ access to abortion. If a girl/young woman was pregnant as a consequence of child sexual abuse/rape by a family member chances of gaining access to abortion were severely curtailed. Those seeking medication/pills to secure the abortion at home have been prosecuted in the United Kingdom for taking them outside the 24 day time limit in the Abortion Act 1967 (a reactionary piece of legislation that requires repealling together with the abortion provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 – repealled in about 2019 vis-a-vis Nthn Ireland but at that time left in place for England, Wales and Scotland: what on earth were the UK women MPs (and the men of course but what hope there!) thinking when they allowed this to happen. The Abortion Act 1967 itself in section 5 makes abortion illegal if carried out outside the provisions of that Act. The trenchant provisions of the OAPA 1861 are completely unnecessary, utter overkill (sic) and along with the Abortion Act 1967 have to go. Fortunately all Australian jurisdictions have decriminalised abortion and the ACT makes this medical treatment free.

    Specifically as to the Northern Rivers floods – that climate change/global warming impact more on women and girls requires attention. In addition to the issues highlighted here, trafficking is growing and women and girls are the greatest targets. When one’s country disappears under the ocean because the land is being swallowed up by the sea, where does one go? Into the acquisitive and predatory hands of the traffickers – that’s where.

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