Nirmala Thape has been set free
following a yearlong ordeal during which she was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned after having an abortion in Malaysia.
The 24-year-old migrant worker
from Nepal had been arrested in the clinic where she had an abortion last
October. According to an article in the Malay Mail Online, she was
acquitted and discharged by the Bukit Mertajam Sessions Court on September 21,
Abortion has been legal in Malaysia since 1989 in circumstances
when a qualified doctor considers the pregnancy to pose a risk to the mental or
physical health of the woman. Nirmala’s doctor reported that he had considered
the risks of her losing her job, having to pay compensation to her employer,
and being sent back home if found pregnant, and he legally justified the
Dr. Choong Sim Poey of Reproductive
Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia said Nirmala
is the first woman in Malaysia to be charged in court for having an abortion
and that such a case was never prosecuted before. He also noted that about
90,000 abortions are conducted in Malaysia each year.
Nirmala’s case has generated significant interest from NGOs and
the general public throughout the country, raising concern over women being
criminalized for seeking abortion care and the importance of recognizing and
protecting the reproductive rights of female migrant workers.