This is why Abortion rights of youths and adolescents matter

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Yunah Bvumbwe-Zimbabwe

“Say it loud, say it proud.My body, my rights”,one might not see the essence of these words, but to my understanding, our voices as young citizens can be held  collaboratively  to ridicule ideally abuses, negligence and rigid cultures that are not in tandem with what we desire to see.I recently ran across an article written by Kali Hawlk,  a US blogger  , and  something caught up in my mind and is still rattling in my head .She said ” change means you’re not settling for anyone else’s idea of what life should be like.change means you’re willing to bend and flex as you receive new information about your true self  and the world around you”. I then challenged myself in this blog  to  herald about  things that  I wish to see changing specifically in the sector of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of youths and adolescents and why  that  change is  important.

I am  a young  Zimbabwean who believes in  abortion rights of youths and adolescents.I have no doubt that restrictive abortion laws do violate  girls human rights based on  agreements made at the  UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the Fourth World Conference on women in Beijing and lastly  as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles (1&3&12&19&27) of the declaration which  emphasize more on social, cultural rights and the right to life
Therefore, as the world braces up towards celebrating  a Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Rights  which is celebrated on the  28th of September every year , this blog  will focus  on why Abortion rights are a necessity and how their absence  jeopardizes the future of youths and adolescents.

I will begin with a quote from Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie a Nigerian female novelist, she said and I quote ”  culture doesn’t make people, but people make culture, if the full humanity of women is not part of our culture, then we must make it our culture”
I do concur with her sentiments and I strongly feel that  the erasure and silencing in the Abortion Rights discourse should be done away with .
It is this silence  which perpetuates   the unfettered  power  of culture and restrictive laws  to play it’s  subjugation role in downplaying   the ideas and efforts of legalizing  safe abortion rights and make the environment for girls more habitable and humane . If  legalizing safe  abortion is not part of our culture, we should make it one . A  lot of young girls are missing out on many education opportunities and some die in the process of unsafe termination of pregnancy because their culture doesn’t permit them to abort and  schools  also  are playing a policing role by denying   pregnant girls the right  to attend school. This devastating experience  takes away hope and aspirations of girls who risk becoming dependents for the rest of their lives as looking after the child   becomes a horrible reality/experience.

Moreover, adolescents and youths in developing countries who  lack essential services such as provision of contraceptive methods  and condom usage  , if they have no access to safe and legal abortion , they  are likely to die  in the process of carrying out unsafe abortion,  some girls attempt to  terminate the baby by inserting  sharp objects  into their uterus  which results in them injuring themselves.  if by chance they  survive, they risk developing  health complications such  as  fistula and  may not be able to conceive again in their lifetime as their  reproductive tracks are still narrow and immature, they tear during a forceful process of delivery.
NB:  Fistula is a silent disease, which has serious consequences,  sufferers usually have solitary  lives and young girls experiencing that from a tender age is unbearable. In Africa fistula is highly stigmatized and victims usually accumulate  names for themselves, it is at times associated with infidelity and witchcraft.    These sad situations can only be averted if safe and legal abortion Rights are put in place. 

Furthermore, Research has it that only three countries in Africa namely   Cape Verde, South Africa and Tunisia   allow safe and legal abortion. This is not good as  more young women  especially in poor and developing countries  don’t know when to have children and when to stop, a factor which has  led them to have more children than they desire to have. As an aftermath taking care of these children and providing meaningful education becomes a problematic issue  as these young mothers are poor, unemployed and uneducated . This is very wrong as it further perpetuates the cycle of poverty within the family, hence  putting in place safe and Legal Abortion Rights  is the only panacea in averting this situation as girls can choose to have a safe abortion and continue with their education  than risk becoming young, irresponsible mothers.

To elucidate further, as a young person I do understand that abstinence is undoubtedly the safest method  in avoiding pregnancy and STIs, but truth be told, few young people are now able or should I say are willing to abstain.  This explains that as the number of young people who are indulging in sexual activities is increasing, so should we scale up efforts to make sure that safe and legal abortion rights are put in place.  Most of the young people who are getting into these early sexual debuts don’t understand the implications of falling pregnant and how to take  care of the consequences , the idea of becoming mothers  at such a tender age  is usually not acceptable to them, some will see baby dumping as the only solution  besides that the society  in most cases  put forward  criticism  or labelling that is   meant to name and shame those girls who fall pregnant while still at school. Hence  making abortion safe and accessible  will help young girls  choose their future wisely and have a second chance, this will  decrease chances of teenage mothers dropping out of high school and pave way for education to meaningful empower them.

  I then do believe that  making the world a better and safer place to live in for adolescents and youths begins  by making sure  safe and legal abortion rights are put in place as birth control is critical to women’s  health, equality and economic security, without these in place, human rights laws that protects freedom of expression and right to life will remain a fallacy to girls.

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