The Department of Health in KwaZulu Natal has launched a campaign to clamp down on illegal abortions, after it emerged that over 20,000 women were admitted to state hospitals in 2014 following “incomplete abortions” and a further 1,455 developed sepsis from unsafe, backstreet abortions. LIZEKA MADUNA asked some Durbanites what they thought of the campaign.
Sakhiseni Gumede, 28, human resources clerk, Durban
State hospitals and clinics require a certain age for one to have an abortion, otherwise underage women need their parents’ permission. In most cases, parents are not even aware that a woman is pregnant and that is why they do things secretively. The government should mobilise communities and police to fight against backstreet abortionists because they put people’s lives at risk. State-provided campaigns have resources and a potential to reach scores of people. This campaign will encourage people to use state facilities and contraceptives. Teaching the youth about the consequences of unprotected sex is of vital importance; we should raise awareness of the importance of protected sex. Men should communicate with each other and talk about such things together, but also talk to their partners and children.
Zethu Ngcobo, 23, waitress, Glenwood
Unlike the backstreet, hospitals have long processes which might end up with one changing their mind. Some women want to get rid of the baby before their pregnancy starts showing. Also, the shame and stigma associated with abortion are a problem. Backstreet abortionists ask no questions, they get down to business, which is the reason most women who abort there have complications later. They are wrong and dangerous, and people need to know that. This campaign might help save youth from themselves, although a lot has been done to teach them already. Men should start being there for their partners and go through the process of family planning together; they should encourage us to take contraceptives.
Bongani Qwabe, 30, residence advisor, Durban
There is no privacy in state hospitals because the seating arrangement makes it easy to identify what a person is there for. In the backstreet, it is someone who doesn’t even know them. Backstreet abortions are dangerous and life-threatening otherwise they would have been legalised. The campaign has a chance of helping women to realise the impact these illegal abortionists can have but it is less likely that they will stop resorting to them. Parents have a huge role to play in advising their children on sexual activities and the importance of practising safe sex. Government has played a fundamental role by providing different forms of contraceptives.
Silindile Mbhele, 25, administrative clerk, Umlazi
Shame and stigma are the main factors that drive women to unsafe abortions. Abortion might be legal in South Africa but in our communities, it’s still a shame. Backstreet abortionists are trying to make business the wrong way, luring vulnerable women to do unsafe abortion is not the way of making money. This campaign might reach more communities and women, but only a few will utilise the state’s facilities. The government has played a huge role in educating women about contraceptives and access to safe abortions. Instead of encouraging and forcing women to do abortions, men should communicate with their partners about everything, including family planning.
Lindelwa Mbhele, 23, waitress, Umlazi
Guilt and lack of knowledge might be the factors forcing women to go to backstreet abortions. Some of us might be aware of access to safe abortion procedures but not all women are well-informed. Being uneducated plays a huge role and that is why these illegal abortionists take advantage of vulnerable women. This campaign will reach more people and educate them. As the youth, we need to seek help and knowledge with regards to sexual health. Our partners should be by our side in whatever decisions we make, such as family planning. They should be more involved and know what kind of contraceptives we use.
Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons