PREGNANCY STIGMA?

Devolve research on unsafe abortion to find solutions

A collective number of cases reported countrywide will not mitigate problem

In Summary

• Specific data will establish cause of unsafe abortions. 

• Pinning the cause makes it easier to find solutions. 

A woman who felt she had no choice but to risk a back-alley abortion in Nairobi
WHAT IS PUSHING WOMEN TO EARLY GRAVES?: A woman who felt she had no choice but to risk a back-alley abortion in Nairobi
Image: FILE/AL JAZEERA

In Kenya, seven women die daily as a result of unsafe abortion. However, the missing information is the prevalence of abortion at the county level. For example, Kisumu and Homa Bay are among the top 10 counties leading in deaths of women.

There is, however, no specific information on deaths related to unsafe abortion. Do we have numbers of women who died while attempting to terminate a pregnancy? How do we arrive at the estimated 464,000 cases of unsafe abortion?

Information on the prevalence of unsafe abortion at the county level will, therefore, guide planning of health interventions to reduce not only cases of unsafe abortion, but also the consequences that include maternal mortalities and morbidities.

Specific data on where the cases of abortion occurred will, therefore, help in identifying the contributors or reasons to unsafe abortion. Is it because of pregnancy-related stigma? Maybe its families of the women pushing them to terminate ‘unwanted’ pregnancies. Families could be forcing young daughters to abort by instilling fear or suggesting that ‘getting a baby before marriage is a sin in this house’. Or they could be planning to marry off their daughters to older men who have promised the family a fortune. Is it lack of accessibility to services? Cultural beliefs that prohibit pregnancy before marriage? Or just the inability to raise enough funds for a proper process? Or perhaps it’s the laws in the Constitution that bar the young, scared women from using seeking proper channels.

Either way, we are losing innocent girls to back-alley procedures for one of these reasons or others related to retrogressive cultural practices. Pinpointing the actual problem will be a step towards solving it.

Network for Adolescents and Youth of Africa, NAYA Kenya