Women facing a tall order in enjoying reproductive rights

Women in Malawi face a harsh reality when it comes to reproductive rights, the issue of unsafe abortion looms large, posing grave risks to their health and well-being.

According to a report on the incidence of induced abortion in Malawi, in 2017 unsafe abortions in the country accounted for up to 18 percent.

With a high number of unintended pregnancies many opt for unsafe abortion methods due to the prevailing restrictive law on abortion in the country.

Dr Kangaude: We have a situation.

This is one story being told by Mary Mbewe who had her uterus removed due to an unsafe abortion after using a concoction from a herbalist.

‘’I blame the law on abortion for this, if hospitals allowed women to remove an unwanted pregnancies she could have still had her uterus and her Marriage,’’ she says.

Dr Godfrey Kangaunde is a lawyer as well as a sexual reproductive and says’’ the problem has become so big affecting the poor and young girls’’.

Concurring with Kangaude is safe motherhood coordinator for Blantyre district hospital Elida Sama Mabvutula who says ‘’the situation is concerning because at national level the maternal mortality rate is at 439 per 100 thousand a year and in Blantyre  alone the maternal mortality rate is at 31 per 100 thousand ‘’.

Malawi’s parliament has withdrawn an abortion bill from debate following opposition to the proposal to liberalize the country’s law, which only allows abortions when the mother’s life is at risk. Anti-abortion groups have urged the National Assembly not to discuss the measure, but activists who want abortion options expanded say they will fight on according to Denis Mwafulirwa project officer for center for human rights and rehabilitation

According to   Mwafulirwa ‘’time has now come for them to seek legal action on the matter’’.

Marcel Chisi executive director for Men Arise now says ‘’Men should not remain silent on issues of sexual reproductive health as they are equally involved.’’

With over 144 thousand girls and women procuring abortion every year, legalization might be important to save lives of girls and women who are dying from unsafe abortions thereby reducing maternal mortality rate.

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