Women are dying not because we cannot treat but because societies are yet to decide that their lives are worth saving. This is especially because of stigma related issues associated with abortion.
Abortion stigma is a form of gender discrimination and punishment that represents social control of both women who seek abortion care services and health care providers who offer the services.
Stigma contributes to the idea that women who procure abortion are not morally upright.
Despite the fact that 300,000 abortions occur in Kenya annually, abortion is still ascertained as something wrong, inappropriate or deviant.
Women who have abortion are seen as sexually promiscuous, sinful and having violated religious norms. Fighting stigma is a daunting challenge but the first battle however is to look into the root cause.
KMET under the Stigma reduction project (STIREP), trained 15 healthcare providers in Kisii central sub county on the role they can play in reducing abortion stigma. 40 male champions were also mobilized and had focused group discussions where they gave their opinions on abortion stigma and how it affects their communities.
STIREP utilizes IPAs abortion stigma tool to measure its impact and to increase awareness of abortion stigma among providers, women, youth and communities while creating awareness on effects of abortion stigma at different levels.
Some of the consequences of abortion stigma include; secrecy, denial, guilt, self-induction and death. The stigmatized often feel disgraced leaving them with little power to access resources that can change their situation. At societal levels they are often excluded and marginalized.
According to KMET’s programs manager, Sam owoko, more awareness meetings with private and public sector providers are taking place. “Sensitization meeting with male champions in 5 counties where KMET is currently working on abortion issues is also ongoing,” he added.
Women should have the power and right to make their own decisions by laws, society and health systems. We shall have won the fight against unsafe abortion when no deaths occur, and no woman suffers negative circumstances against unsafe abortion.