By Alexander A. Sakyi, volunteer at Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana
One day an old man said to me, “You can’t tell me I didn’t see what I saw”. And this is very true when it comes to matters bewildering people in our communities. One such problem I would like to talk about is abortion.
I live currently in Noyem, a village in the Birim North district of Ghana. As of 1985, Ghanaian law permits abortion in cases of rape, incest or the “defilement of a female idiot;” if the life or health of the woman is in danger; or if there is risk of fatal abnormality. In 2007 it was found that only 3% of pregnant women and only 6% of those seeking an abortion were aware of the legal status of abortion. Almost half of abortions in Ghana remain unsafe.
Abortion is a generally perceived in Ghana as an act of evil and sin because of the cultural background of the various ethnic groups present here. It’s regarded as a taboo because there’s a belief deviant girls are the ones who do it. Even so this affects all people in the communities. A lot are practising unsafe abortion to their detriment.
Several girls, out of ignorance, have died through unsafe abortion, leaving behind their family in sorrow. Some who were the hopeful breadwinners have locked their fate in death through unsafe abortion. Girls and younger women are more likely than older women to experience unsafe abortion because they don’t have the right information and can’t always reach proper clinics.
The chiefs are silent on it, the assemblymen are also quiet, and the politicians seem unperturbed. There’s no voice of change.
What happens at the end of the day, when a young girl dies from unsafe abortion? There’s reduction in school-going youth. A family ends their day in dilemma; having lost a precious child. Girls and women who have had unsafe abortions and survived are ridiculed and despised. We need to share information about safe abortion through comprehensive sexuality education and empowerment of leaders, to make sure more young people are taught about their rights under the law so that they can stay safe.