Traditional authorities, Members of Parliament and leaders of political parties have been meeting in Salima to discuss on the way forward and current status of a bill that would change the law to allow women to terminate a pregnancy known as Termination of Pregnancy or TOP.
The bill is currently generating a lot of debate due to cultural, religious and economic aspect attached to it.
Recently the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) petitioned Parliament where the influential bodies openly told them “don’t discuss the bill”.
But speaking in Salima some raditional leaders expressed surprise that the stand was taken without their consultation.
” We just saw them demonstrating,” Senior chief Kasakula said.
He said the bill is very important because once it is passed into law, it will help to save women as it wwould also allow abortion in cases of incest, rape and foetal impairment .
The chief said women should decide what happens to their bodies because they are the ones who suffer.
“Our women will continue to go to quacks to get rid of unwanted pregnancies … women are having abortions all the time and what we want to see happen is for our women to have safe abortions that will prevent the countless deaths,” he said.
Kasakula commended Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) for organising experts to give them insights on the magnitude of abortion in the country.
The medical experts which the chiefs were commending for their persuading presentations included top and renowned gaenacologists in the country; Dr Chisale Mhango, Dr Thoko Msusa , both senior lectures at College of Medicine and Dr Grace Chiudzu.
Giving their side of the story members of the clergy advised journalists to be objective whenever reporting on TOP bill.
Human Rights Resource Centre acting Executive Director, Emma Kaliya also quashed the demonstrations which was organised by the faith leader on abortion bill as a waste of time
Kaliya said there is a lot of issues worthy demonstrating .
“Our women are being raped and there is high rate and alarming figures of defilement but nothing is happening on them., no demonstration,” she said
Kaliya wondered why the demonstrators attached gay issues on TOP bill.
“They attached gay issues in order to buy public sympathy,” reasoned Kaliya.
Democratic Progressive Party member of Parliament Kamuyambeni earlier the day told the delegates that as MPs they have no problem with the bill.
“What we are saying is that we need more debate on the bill and we are asking you to do more consultations on the bill so that people from our villages should tell us what they want ” he said.
Currently, 70,000 women and girls terminate pregnancies every year while 31,000 get treated of complications of unsafe termination of pregnancy.
The statistics indicate that 17% of pregnancy related deaths in Malawi is attributable to unsafe abortion rendering poor women and girls suffering.
Chairperson of Parliamentary committee on health Juliana Lunguzi said she was not happy that the media reported that she will not support the TOP bill.
“I never said that. I was misquoted what I said when receiving the petition from church leaders was that we need more consultations on this bill than rushing,” said Lunguzi in change of tune.
She said MPs cannot sit by while women die needlessly from unsafe abortion.
Lunguzi said MPs uphold women’s rights to dignity, life, integrity and security, and their reproductive rights.
But faith leaders insist TOP will be amplifying and magnifying the right of the woman yet violating the right of the child.
They argue that bill undermines fundamental cultural and religious values; it promotes the culture of death, and makes individual choice and freedom more important than the moral imperative of human conscience.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :