5 October 2012
The Dutch non-profit organization Women on Waves, which provides safe abortions to women aboard a boat in international waters, conducted its first visit to a Muslim country this week. The controversial “abortion ship” docked on Thursday in the harbor of Smir, near the city of Tangier, about 20 yards from shore. While authorities are restricting access to the harbor, the boat arrived ahead of announced arrival and avoided the blockade. At midday, up to 300 people had gathered at Smir to protest against the visit.
The Dutch group says the purpose of the visit is to provide women with “safe legal medical abortions”. AFP quotes local response from Chafik Chraibi, head of a Moroccan NGO seeking to provide abortions legally, saying, “It’s true that the initiative is symbolic, to defend the rights of women to have abortions… But to practice at sea, in international waters, is for me a way of circumventing the law and is something clandestine.” Lawyer Abdelmalik Zaza, in the newspaper of ruling Islamist party the PJD, commented “Moroccan law forbids abortion. Moroccan religious identity says it is forbidden and so does Islam. So the government cannot allow this ship to come to Morocco.”