SAYWHAT, an organisation that focuses on sexual and reproductive health challenges among young people says it is engaging the government to consider reviewing the Termination of Pregnancy Act and liberalise conditions under which a person can seek safe abortion services.
In a statement, the organisation raised concern on the increase in unsafe abortions among young women following the alleged death of a University of Zimbabwe(UZ) student due to unsafe abortion.
“While we are yet to ascertain the authenticity of the alleged death of a female student at the University of Zimbabwe in a case of suspected unsafe abortion, SAYWHAT is deeply concerned over the increase in unsafe abortions in the country,” the organisation said.
The statement also revealed that the organisation has joined hands with a consortium of organisations in a bid to advocate for better sexual rights among women in the country.
“As SAYWHAT, we are currently part of the Right Here Right Now a consortium of organisations advocating for an enabling environment in which young people can enjoy their reproductive health and rights including through access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, and a conducive policy environment.”
The organisation added that unsafe abortions are present in all communities and stakeholders need to come together to mitigate these challenges.
“Unsafe abortions are happening not only in the college spaces but across all Zimbabwean society and are a reflection of deep-rooted SRH challenges that require collective action by all stakeholders,” the statement read.
“As an organisation, we remain resolute in our advocacy for the country to commit to end unsafe abortions in the country. Particularly, as a member of the Right Here Right Now Consortium, we have been engaging the government to consider review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act and liberalise conditions under which a person can seek safe abortion services.”
SAYWHAT also recommended that the government should invest in better research to come up with modern contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies and also review the termination of pregnancy act.
“In light of this alleged story and daily realities of young women in the country, we, therefore, recommend that the government should avail comprehensive Family Planning Services to Young People and the availability of modern contraceptive options among young people can help prevent unintended/ unwanted pregnancies,” the organisation said.
“Government should prioritise reviewing the Termination of Pregnancy Act so that it decriminalises abortion and widen conditions under which abortions can be legal in the country, guarantees all women the right to choice under right to security (bodily and psychological integrity) which includes the right to make decisions concerning reproduction according to section 52 of the Constitution, remove administrative red tape to improve access to safe abortion as a reproductive health care service and to improved multi-stakeholder and multi-discipline approach to service provision pre, during and post-abortion.”
Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) Communications Manager, Mthokozisi Ndebele weighed on the issue saying that there should be enhanced awareness programs on available contraceptives for women.
“We believe that there should be enhanced awareness raising initiatives on alternative options that women have in preventing unwanted pregnancies. These include the utilisation of contraceptives as a measure to bringing an end to the rise in unwanted and unplanned pregnancies,” said Ndebele.
According to the 2016 National Adolescent Fertility Study by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council(ZNFPC ), 9% of adolescents aged 10-19 years have been pregnant.
When broken down by age group, 17% of adolescents aged 15-19 years and 0.2% among the 10-14 years-olds had experienced pregnancy.