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Keeping the Promise to Save African Women


According to statistics, roughly 5.5 million unsafe abortions are performed annually in Africa and the deaths from the dangerous exercise account for approximately 14 per cent of all maternal deaths in the region.

Director of the African Centre for Gender and Social Development at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, made the statement recently quoting World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

"An estimated 36,000 young adults of school going age die needlessly of unsafe abortion in Africa. On the African continent, the debate needs to address legalising abortion and making it a safe practice; this must go hand in hand with prevention against unwanted pregnancies and HIV infection, which is also a result of unprotected sex," the WHO report said. Ruzvidzo said in the west, abortion has been as important an issue as to determine who to vote for, it has been a totally disregarded issue in Africa, which carries a huge brunt of the preventable pandemic.

It was as a result of this that stakeholders and health experts met recently in Accra, Ghana to make true their promise that more African women should not continue to die unnecessarily as a result of unsafe abortion. Welcoming participants at the conference, Chairman of the opening ceremony, Dr. Richard B. Turkson began with a story from the Old Testament of the Bible.

He said the story about the creation and the original sin, the Almighty God, whose wrathful displeasure Adam and Eve had incurred, is recorded in the book of Genesis, Chapter 3 verse 16, as having addressed Eve as follows: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and conception; in sorrow thou shall bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee".

"From time immemorial and in virtually all cultures, men have misinterpreted this to mean their so-called "mandate" from God Himself to lord it over women and to show very little concern, if any, for women's fertility-related problems. Over time, God's anger seems to have abated in many parts of the world; it appears, however, that in sub-Saharan Africa it continues unabated. Unnecessarily hazardous pregnancies and child bearing largely govern women's lives in sub-Saharan Africa; similarly their death is often dictated by pregnancy and childbirth.

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