Right Here and Right Now
August 1, 2019
The stigma around abortion is compounded by socio-cultural beliefs that has seen many women resorting to backdoor unsafe abortions due to fear of stigmatization and labelling. The Guttmacher research done in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care has shown that despite the decline rate of a global trend of maternal deaths, Zimbabwe is actually on the rise because of the restrictive laws around abortion. The statistics provided state that 66 800 abortions are induced in Zimbabwe and this translates to 18 in every 1000 abortions between the 15-49 young girls and women while 40% of the pregnancies are unintended and a quarter of these end in abortion and 1 in every 5 women who undergo unsafe abortion lose lives due to complications. The RHRN consortium has since been hosting community dialogues to gather and disseminate information on the lived realities of unsafe abortions that are happening in different provinces. Abortion is an issue that is not largely and openly discussed in the community because of the beliefs that abortion is murder and with different values and norms. However avoiding open discussion around the issue has seen a rise in maternal deaths attributed to unsafe abortion hence the need to hold dialogues to get issues from people within the community and their voices will inform our advocacy.
Under Right Here, Right Now Roots this year has been having meetings with young people and the community in general to hear about their issues around SRHR in an effort to answer key questions such as: Are they accessing services? Are there any challenges and what do they want to change? Above all, do they understand what SRHR is? ROOTS has also been having an interface meetings between service providers and young people to discuss the same issues and hearing the challenges that service delivery points have in terms of SRHR service provision. Some of the issues discussed were sex work among young girls,unsafe abortions,teena
- Raise awareness on the state of abortion in Zimbabwe, injustices posed and highlight provisions within the TOPA
- To actively engage community members (including religious and traditional leaders) on the need to amend the TOPA
- To gather evidence for parliamentarians to move a motion in parliament.
- Propose recommendations for the amendment of the TOPA
Many issues emerged as a result of the discussions. Overall, there has been a disheartening situation of young girls selling sex that has been affecting communities including sex workers and the issue has been presented to parliament. Most of the young sex workers are starting as early as 10 years and usually have children at around 13 so they secure children before they get deeper in their work. Once these sex workers have their first child the other pregnancies that will come are unintended and hence are most likely to end in abortion and most of these girls are dying since they cannot pay for user fees for safe termination. Key drivers of this phenomenon includes, poverty, curiosity, child headed families, failure to pay school fees by parents, economic meltdown and lack of employment. Sexual reproductive health services are provided weekly by CESSHAR. Some of the challenges these sex workers face include being paid via eco-cash and transactions being reversed or not being enough because of the charges, being forced to have unprotected sex and sometimes being abandoned, there is poor service provision by the police to assist sexually harassed or assaulted sex workers, there are also issues of human trafficking, rape and labelling.