Ugandan Girls Dying from Unsafe Abortions

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Funeral processions, like this one in Ethiopia, are all too common in Africa.

Credit: Rod Waddington on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Funeral processions, like this one in Ethiopia, are all too common in Africa.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Unsafe abortions are a big problem in Uganda. Abortion is illegal in this country so many girls are using unsafe methods to end their pregnancy. Earlier this fall, an organization called Centre for Health Human Rights and Development launched a petition for Parliament to decriminalize abortion. The organizers had 30,000 signatures and were aiming for 2.5 million.

In my village it is common for girls to take local medicines or insert sharp objects into themselves to end a pregnancy. Many girls get sick or die after these abortions. There is also a problem with girls becoming prostitutes to get money and then they get pregnant and want to end the pregnancy but don’t have money to end it.

My friend Rosemary Naigember is from a village called Bugade in Eastern Uganda. We used to go to school together at Townside High School. Rosemary became pregnant during our school Easter holidays. The father of the baby was 35 year old, Rosemary was only 16. She was too scared to tell her parents so she went to a hospital and asked for an abortion. In Uganda you can pay for an abortion even though it is illegal. We don’t have Rosemary at Townside High School anymore as she died in the hospital after the abortion. The Ugandan Ministry of Health estimates that abortion-related causes accounted for 26 percent of all maternal mortality, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This proportion is almost 50 percent higher than the World Health Organization’s estimate for Eastern Africa.

I went to Rosemary’s burial with my friends and the head teacher and local pastor also attended. It was very sad because Rosemary was so young. I want girls to know that unsafe abortions are very risky and can cause so many problems. But even more I want adults to understand how their Colonial-era policies are killing us.

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