Sexual and reproductive rights are rights – Gawanas

The discussion on abortion must be contextualised so that when everything else fails, a woman will not be forced to give birth to an unwanted child which is dumped in a bush, she said.

08 April 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

Advocate Bience Gawanas, former special advisor on Africa for the United Nations, says sexual and reproductive rights information and services should be easily available to make the lives of women easier.

She said the time has come for Namibia to openly discuss abortion, adding that the practice already takes place or is sought outside the country, whether it is condoned by society or not.

“It is painful journey for all of us as Namibians to have to face up to that kind of issue, but unless we discuss the uncomfortable truth, we will always pretend that everything is fine,” she said.

Gawanas has initiated comprehensive campaigns on women’s health and rights and survival of newborns and children on the continent, such as the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

According to her, the discussion on abortion must always be contextualised so that when everything else fails, a woman will not be forced to give birth to an unwanted child which is dumped in a bush.

‘No easy decision’

“People should stop speaking on behalf of a woman if they do not appreciate what that woman goes through. There is no easy decision for a woman who opts for an abortion, whether it is safe or unsafe,” she said.

Gawanas added that more open discussions around abortion must be started within the Namibian context.

She said - if legalised - the law will not force anyone to have an abortion, but rather give those who want one the option to have it.

“We must ask whether we care more for the unborn child than for the one that is already born. We have street children; we have neglected children and our adoption services are not the best. We have to look at it in its totality. Abortion is just but one option,” she said.

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