IPPF appoints new Regional Director for Kuala Lumpur hub

Media Release

4 September 2012


IPPF appoints new Regional Director for Kuala Lumpur hub

The International Planned Parenthood Federation recently appointed Ms. Nora Murat as its Regional Director for East and South East Asia and Oceania Regional Office based in Kuala Lumpur effective 1 September 2012.

A lawyer by profession, Nora has considerable experience in the NGO field, both in Malaysia and internationally – in particular on issues related to women and human rights.  Prior to joining IPPF, she was the Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia.  Earlier professional life included working in Afghanistan for the Women and Children Research Foundation, the Asia Foundation and with Sisters in Islam in Kuala Lumpur as a leading advocate on women’s rights and fundamental liberties.


A Malaysian national, Nora’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights is supported by her academic background including a law degree, diploma in Sharia Laws and Legal Practice from the International Islamic University and a Masters in Religion and Public Life.

IPPF is a global service provider and a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. It is a worldwide movement of national organizations working with and for communities and individuals. The East & South East Asia and Oceania Region is the largest of IPPF’s six regions, in terms of population. The Region has 17 full Member Associations [Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam], six Associate Members [Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu] and three collaborating partners [Lao PDR, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea]

ESEAOR has seen a burgeoning membership and are extremely diverse in population size and distribution, geography, socio-economic development, political and legal climate, religious and linguistic profiles and reproductive and sexual health status. The region currently serves more than 10 million clients and expects to double these services by 2015, with a special focus on expanding access to the poor, marginalized, socially excluded and underserved population including adolescents and young people.


For further information please contact Ms. Mangala Namasivayam, Communication and Advocacy Officer, at +603 4256 6122 or mnamasivayam@ippfeseaor.org.


To learn more about IPPF, please go to www.ippf.org and for our work in East & South East Asia and Oceania Region please go to www.ippfeseaor.org

Speaking about safe abortion, barriers and law overview in ESEAO region (part 1)

By Jeross Aguilar, Rinaldi Ridwan, and Victoria Wong Li Leng

Speaking about safe abortion, it can be punished with criminal charge for some countries in East and South East Asia and Oceania region. Surprisingly, this region has a wide range of law in which the safe abortion can be performed. Safe abortion in many countries within the East, South-East Asia and Oceania region is restricted to specific conditions, mostly health related but otherwise may be considered a criminal offense.

Based on our concern, we believe that safe abortion is a part of women’s reproductive rights. Safe abortion is important to be acknowledged and legalized as this may pertain to maternal death as women who have no access to contraceptive information and services and who could no longer support their growing number of children must desperately resort to unsafe abortion procedures. Let’s see how abortion law performed in 12 countries in ESEAO region that lay down permissible conditions for safe abortion.

[1]Laws on abortion either expressly allow abortion to be performed only to save the life of a woman or are governed by general principles of criminal legislation which allow abortion to be performed for that reason on the ground of necessity. In addition, the British case of R. v. Bourne or local application of that decision applies. Under that decision, the ground of necessity was interpreted to encompass abortion performed on grounds of preserving physical and mental health.

[2]Laws on abortion do not expressly allow abortion to be performed to save the life of a woman, but general principles of criminal legislation allow abortion to be performed for that reason on the ground of necessity.

[3]Same as Fiji

Criminalisation of abortion in the Philippines

Specifically, in the Philippines safe abortion has been restrictive since 1930s and women who undergo abortion are imprisoned, as well as those who assist her to have an abortion – husband, midwife, parents, etc. The law is not also explicit in allowing abortion to save a woman’s life.

Unfortunately, proposal to liberalize the abortion law are strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. Current statistics show an increase of women having unsafe abortions which nearly half a million a year primarily for economic reasons – poor, too many children, and cannot afford health care. (Guttmacher study).

“Other attempts to reduce unsafe abortion through contraception and family planning are also blocked by the Catholic Church. It is hoped that passing the Reproductive Health Bill will significantly reduce the incidence of unsafe abortions.” – Jeross, youth representative from FPOP.


Malaysia: lack of knowledge to legal status of abortion mainly on health provider

Moving to Malaysia, it has always been a taboo to talk about having an abortion Abortion has always been a taboo in Malaysia. According to the survey results conducted with 120 doctors and nurses, there is evidence that there are judgmental and unsympathetic perception of many health care providers on abortion and unwanted pregnancies Evidence in a survey conducted among 120 doctors and nurses suggests that health care providers are judgmental and unsympathetic of abortion and unwanted pregnancies (S.P. Choong, 2008). Lack of knowledge to legal status of doctors, nurses, the media and the public that abortion is restricted in Malaysia has been a major barrier for young women to access health information and services (Kamaluddin, 2008).

However section 312 of the Penal Code of Malaysia permits abortion on these grounds:  to save the life of the woman;  to preserve her physical and or mental health. Furthermore, The Malaysian National Population and Family Development Board Survey on secondary school students in 2007 revealed that 21.2% who knew their friends have unwanted pregnancies, and 10% who has friends whom had undergone abortion (LPPKN, 2007).