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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 05:25 GMT
Nepal pardon for women prisoners
Nepalese woman
Women who have abortion in Nepal are still stigmatised
Nepal's King Gyanendra has given an amnesty to 12 women prisoners who had been jailed for having abortions.

Abortions were illegal in the Himalayan kingdom until 2002, and violators were sent to jail for anything between three years and life.

Women's rights group in Nepal had been insisting on an amnesty for the women after abortion was made legal.

The government allowed termination of unwanted pregnancies because women were dying from unsafe illegal abortions.

Nepal has one of the highest mortality rates for mothers in Asia.

"King Gyanendra has exonerated the 12 women inmates of their remaining jail terms," the Department of Prisons said in a statement, quoted by Associated Press.

The royal pardon has been announced on the country's traditional constitution day on Monday.

The authorities said about 200 other prisoners had also been freed from jails across the country to mark Constitution Day.

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