Malawi chiefs back calls to legalise abortion

Traditional leaders in the country have asked government to review and abolish anti – abortion laws noting that the current laws were outdated and not in line with modern practice in the medical field.

The chiefs made the appeal in an interview with Malawi News Agency on Sunday at a two day workshop for traditional leaders drawn from the Southern region in Mangochi organized by Women Lawyers Association in Malawi.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders, Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje said chiefs have unanimously agreed to ask government to review and reform laws governing abortion in Malawi since the current laws were not in line with modern science in the medical field.

Senior Traditional Authority Chikumbu back abortion to be legalised and necessary....Photo Jeromy Kadewere

Senior Traditional Authority Chikumbu back abortion to be legalised and necessary….Photo Jeromy Kadewere

“We have seen that records from the research done recently show that more than 100,000 women and girls procure an abortion in Malawi and that 33,000 women and girls develop serious complications including death every year as a result of such abortions,” Chikumbu said.

“We also have seen that Malawi spends approximately K300 million annually in the provision of post abortion care and that unsafe abortion remains one of the biggest causes of maternal mortality as currently 17 percent of maternal deaths in Malawi are due to unsafe abortions,” she noted. “The most affected are poor women and girls.”

Chikumbu observed that by advocating for the review and abolishment of the anti – abortion law chiefs were not encouraging abortions to be done unnecessarily but that it could only be carried out if there was a life threatening problem with recommendation from doctors.

Speaking in a separate interview, President of Women Lawyers Association in Malawi Felisa Kilembe said the aim of the workshop was to advocate for change of laws that hinder rights of women and girls, pointing out that one of them is abortion.

Kilembe disclosed that Women Lawyers Association would engage a lot of stakeholders in the advocacy in a bid to collect more information representative of the majority population, hinting that one such group was that of chiefs who form a crucial aspect in shaping opinion at community level.

She added that next on the agenda would be a meeting with religious leaders on the same issue of abortion who also form the basis for an agenda for change in such social issues.

“Although Malawian laws are against abortion, still more our women and girls are aborting pregnancies each and every day whereby these abortions are unsafely done resulting in more unnecessary deaths,” Kilembe lamented.

Kilmebe said the Women Lawyers Association is advocating for the review of Malawian laws so that it can allow safe abortions in hospitals to reduce deaths among women and girls in the country.

According to Kilembe Women Lawyers Association in Malawi is a grouping of women legal practitioners in the country whose main objective is to promote and protect rights of women and children in Malawi in particular.

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