Tanzanian women endangered by illegal abortions

Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:24pm EDT
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By Kizito Makoye

Dar es Salaam (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Lydia Daudi saw no other choice than to end her six-week pregnancy to spare her deeply religious family from the shame of a pregnancy before marriage.

With the help of a friend, the 26-year-old student at the College of Business Education secretly visited a clinic that provides illegal abortions.

“I was very scared and shocked because it was my first time to do such a thing,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The interview was arranged by a Dar es Salaam-based group that protects women’s rights and declined to be identified.

Abortion is illegal in Tanzania except to save a woman’s life and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

In Tanzania and other parts of East Africa, the estimated number of unsafe abortions was 2.4 million in 2008, or 36 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age—the highest regional unsafe abortion rate in Africa, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which researches reproductive health issues.

Illegal abortions in Tanzania have been documented in a number of studies which suggest that almost 60 percent of women admitted to public hospitals with a suspected miscarriage had, in fact, undergone an abortion.

Daudi said when she and her friend arrived at the clinic, she was hurriedly taken to a room where she met a man who appeared to be a doctor, dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope slung across his shoulders.

“I told him that I wanted to have an abortion and that I counted on him to help me,” she said.   Continued...