MALAWI – Human rights organisation urges youths in Chiradzulu to fight for access to safe abortion +++ Breaking the barriers on access to safe abortion to reduce maternal mortality

Human rights organisation urges youths in Chiradzulu to fight for access to safe abortion

Centre for Solutions Journalism (CSJ) has urged the youth in Malawi to play a crucial role in the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) movement that is pressing for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill enactment in Malawi. CSJ Programme Manager Penelope Paliani Kamanga made the call in Chiradzulu during the International Safe Abortion Day in Chiradzulu….“I urge you, the youth to join us in fighting for our human rights to bodily autonomy against discriminatory policies. The fight can start with our dialogue with our traditional and political leaders. Fighting for our rights can start with expressing ourselves freely on the social media about the benefits of abortion law reform,” she said….

During the event, Blantyre Young Voices Executive Director Kenneth Mtago explained that the youth should be fully aware of their human rights. “Access to sexual and reproductive health, including access to safe abortion is a human right; and we need to know that. Understanding our laws and our rights is very important because it empowers us to claim those rights,” he said.

Centre for Solutions Journalism, with support from Safe Abortion Action Fund, commemorated International Safe Abortion Day in Chiradzulu through training, drama, dialogues and outreach activities under a locally-adapted theme of ‘Young People Leadership in Abortion Law Reform Process.’

SOURCE: CSJNews, by Stella Kamwana, 28 September 2023


Breaking the barriers on access to safe abortion to reduce maternal mortality

28 September marks the annual International Safe Abortion Day. As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating the day, it is important for the government to fulfill the commitment made in the National Postabortion Care Policy that ‘no woman should suffer or die from complications of abortion in Malawi.’

Despite making the commitment, the reality is that many women and girls continue to die from unsafe abortion. Recent data from the Ministry of Health shows an upsurge of unsafe abortions in several districts in Malawi, as reflected in the number of women and girls seeking post-abortion care in health facilities. In Blantyre, for instance, 665 women and girls in 2020 ended up in health facilities because of complications of unsafe abortions. The number in the district rose to 1,144 in 2021 and increased to 3,395 in 2022. In Lilongwe, 1,098 women and girls sought treatment for unsafe abortion complications in 2020. The number rose to 4,711 in 2021, and according to the Ministry of Health data 7,851 women and girls sought postabortion care treatment in 2022. The pattern is the same in rural districts…

Due to the current restrictive laws, most abortions in Malawi are performed under clandestine and unsafe conditions, and result in complications and deaths. Considering the magnitude of unsafe abortion, we at the Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA), Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC), Centre for Human and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for Solutions Journalism (CSJ) and Malawi Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (SRHR Alliance), urge the government to break all the barriers that prevent women from access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, including access to abortion.

We back the Malawi Law Commission which in a ‘Report on the Review of the Law on Abortion’ resolved that “the law on abortion should be liberalised (that is conditional relaxation of the restrictions as contrasted with decriminalisation to cater for certain justifiable instances where termination of pregnancy should be permissible.”….

It has been almost six years since the Special Law Commission finalized the review of Laws on Abortion in Malawi and presented their recommendations to the Government of Malawi, including the Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) Bill…. The delay by Government to present the TOP bill to Parliament remains a setback and raises several questions, especially when ‘Leaving No One Behind’ and ‘Gender Equality’ are key themes spearheading the global 2030 development agenda. Furthermore, Malawi, as a signatory to several regional and global commitments on promoting women rights, including the Maputo Plan of Action and SADC protocol on gender and development needs to walk the talk on its obligations….

As we celebrate this day, we must realise that universal access to safe and legal abortion is an essential health care and a human right…. Issued by Emma Kaliya, Chairperson, Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA), Executive Director, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre

FULL TEXT: AllAfrica, by Centre for Solutions Journalism (Blantyre), 28 September 2023 ; Text originally published in CSJ News, 28 September 2023 and signed by Michael Kaiyatsa, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation; Hastings Saka, Malawi SRHR Alliance; Brian Ligomeka– Executive Director, Centre for Solutions Journalism