Criminalization of abortion in the Democratic Republic of Congo: the lives of women endangered

Gabriella Sakina
Posted February 26, 2020 from Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC is one of the countries where abortion is punishable by law. Thus, women do it clandestinely, with all the risks that this entails. In view of these consequences, should we not just think of decriminalizing abortion? Cases of voluntary termination of pregnancy continue to be recorded in the city of Bukavu. Girls and women deliberately abort and abandon fetuses on the street or in gutters. The most recent case is that which occurred in the Nyamugo district, in the commune of Kadutu, on the night of January 21 to 22, 2020, where a 6 and a half month old boy was born, found discarded and abandoned by his mother in the Kawa collector. . Neighborhood chief Nyamugo confirmed the abortion. He has reported two other cases registered in his entity since the beginning of this year 2020. Following this incident, an urgent meeting with the basic executives was convened in this environment. At the end of this meeting, it was agreed that door-to-door awareness sessions will be organized to find out the perpetrator of this act. Some residents in the town of Bukavu explain these abortion cases by the lack of means, the fear of being turned back at home and the refusal of paternity; that push girls not to keep their pregnancies to term. Others deplore the lethargy of the Congolese state regarding the enforceability of laws which prohibit the voluntary termination of pregnancies; a situation that accentuates abortion practices. The Congolese penal code in its articles 165 and 166 delivers two, severely punishes any abortion caused on oneself or by others. The law punishes from 5 to 10 years of penal servitude for an abortion on oneself and from 5 to 15 years on others. “Congolese law allows a doctor to have a woman abort if only her life is in danger following this pregnancy. This is a therapeutic abortion, "said the director of cabinet at the provincial justice ministry in South Kivu. “Women and girls who terminate their pregnancies usually lose a lot of blood; a situation that can lead to death, "said the technical assistant to the national reproductive health program; Doctor Gaspard Ndarabu. Doctor Gaspard Ndarabu clarified that the voluntary termination of a pregnancy can also be the cause of several health problems. He invites girls and women to observe abstinence to avoid unwanted pregnancies. “We are not only asking the Congolese state to get involved in punishing those responsible for abortion; but families too, to get involved in this problem, because those who have abortions live in families, "suggests a resident of Bukavu.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Feb 28
Feb 28

Hi Gabriella,

Thanks for sharing your post and spreading awareness on this challenging issue. This is so sad because the victims are being punished again. And, yes, I agree that abortion should be decriminalized. I kept thinking about the poor women that had been raped. But even those that haven't been, we don't know what their situations are, and it's their body at the end of the day. No one else should have a say in what they do with their own body. Please keep us posted on any developments with this challenge.

Beth Lacey
Feb 28
Feb 28

This is such a serious issue. It will take very enlightened government officials to make a difference

Metiege Noel Eve
Feb 28
Feb 28

Sister Gabriella thanks for sharing your views on this abortion issues. Actually the criminalization of it actually endangers lives but in my humble opinion I think it is a means to curb down unwanted pregnancies especially in our youths and encourage them to engage in responsible sex

Kabahenda
Feb 28
Feb 28

Thanks for this awareness-raising message.

This is a tragic situation faced by many young women in many parts of Africa. The sad thing is that it is the woman who gets punished regardless of the circumstances under which the pregnancy took place.
The DRC has been under conflict for many years, women have become weapons of war, and many have been raped without any protection from the state.
Under the Canadian aid fund, women in Mozambique are now being helped to have safe abortions. This has reduced the number of unsafe abortions sometimes leading to death.
Perhaps we should contact Pathfinder International, a U.S-based health organization that is implementing the Canadian-funded project in Mozambique to find out if they can help.

Nonetheless, the request has to become from the DRC government. The other way of going about this to work through women's NGOs in the DRC.

NGOs have to be encouraged to train women on how to practise have safe sex, may be distribute condoms to young women, etc. etc.
Perhaps we should start to strategize about how women's organizations in the DRC with the help of international women's Ngos, including World Pulse could persuade the DRC to discriminalize abortion.

I applaud you for bring this important issue to the attention of World Pulse. Do not lose heart, where there is a will, there is a way. The women of the DRC will overcome some day. La luta continua!

Anita Shrestha
Feb 29
Feb 29

Thank you for sharing

Fanka
Feb 29
Feb 29

Thank you for sharing

laison sylvie
Mar 01
Mar 01

Courage sister, I hope the government takes actions towards that.

lizzymark
Mar 02
Mar 02

I agree with you dear,as Africans we know such issues are not taken lightly and yes it could be the reason for many health problems and I think what the Doctor is doing calling on women and girls to abstain is good and could help also. In my country a lot of young girls die in the process because of quark doctors and others take herbal concoction. This is really dangerous and also endangering their future. Thanks for shearing keep us posted please Jave a nice day.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Mar 04
Mar 04

Dear Gabriella,
this is such a sad and challenging topic. From what I have educated myself on about Congo is small I am sure but we have read that rape is also used as a weapon of war in many countries worldwide. Education women and girls is one step But eradicating rape and abortion is another. To speak on the men whom are also guilty and should be brought to justice would eat up all of my wifi data right now! I hope you keep us updated on this and thanks for sharing this much needed information.

Sis Queen

Mercy Vernyuy Munyuy

Hi Gabriella
I hope you are carrying on well.As I read through your article, I immediately thought about the family.if parents can give their children especially the girl child good sex education alongside other values , they will not get engaged in such acts. Thank you for sharing .your thoughts are awesome,