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September 25, 2018

Films board bans safe abortions campaign

Kenya Films Classification Board chairman Ezekiel Mutua has banned adverts by Marie Stopes and Pwani Oil. /FILE
Kenya Films Classification Board chairman Ezekiel Mutua has banned adverts by Marie Stopes and Pwani Oil. /FILE

The Kenya Films Classification Board has banned advertisements by Marie Stopes arguing that they are promoting abortion in the country.

The Board also banned Pwani Oil’s Fresh Fri advertisements saying that they are using sexual content.

The Board said the adverts, which run on radio and television, are in breach of the law, which does not allow them being aired before 10 pm.

"The board has banned Marie Stopes from airing a message on the radio that promotes abortion contrary to Article 26 (4) of the Constitution," he said.

Marie Stopes is running an education campaign that seeks to educate young girls about safe abortion. The promotion runs on Radio Africa Group platforms.

Read: Seven women die everyday from botched abortions

Also read: Children by choice, not chance

A national study on the magnitude of unsafe abortion, titled 'Incidence and Complications of Unsafe Abortion' in Kenya, estimates that 464,690 induced abortions occurred in Kenya in 2012.

An estimated 119,912 women received care for complications from unsafe abortions, such as organ or systems failure, shock, and in some instances these complications led to death.

The study was published by the Health ministry in 2013. It also found that 48 per cent of those who sought post-abortion care after unsafe abortion were women aged less than 25 years, while 17 per cent were teenagers aged 10-19 years.

Abortion is an emotive and extremely divisive issue all over the world, and it is no different in Kenya.

Previously, the 1970 Penal Code stated that any person who intended to procure the miscarriage of a woman would be guilty of a felony, liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

In 2008, the World Health Organization said Eastern and Middle Africa had the highest global rates of unsafe abortions, at 36 per 1,000 reproductive-aged women.

"The advert targets teenage girls by giving them alternatives for unwanted or unplanned pregnancies," the films board said.

The board said the advert was not submitted to the board for examination and classification. He ordered that it stops being aired immediately.

"The board also demands that Marie Stopes issues a public apology," he said.

The board also banned an advert by Pwani Oil which he says uses lewd language and sexual innuendos.

"This advert continues to air on TV stations yet it has not been submitted to the board for examination. Consequently, it has been banned and should not be exhibited or broadcast anywhere within Kenya," it said.

Read: Expect a rise in backstreet abortions, health experts warn

Also read: What it is like to have unsafe abortion

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