NORTHERN CAPE – The recent discovery of a foetus dumped in a bin by a Gamagara municipal workers has highlighted the issue of young women failing to access safe abortions at their local clinics and instead choosing other harmful solutions.
The traumatised municipal worker reported the gory find – a foetus inside a plastic bread packet – and police are now investigating, although no arrests have been made.
A man from the local community of Mapoteng location near Kathu in the Gamagara Local Municipality district said in the past community members would have taken the matter into their own hands.
“In the olden days, when a foetus was found dumped, all the women in the area were searched and their breasts were examined and some would then be taken to hospital for further tests. But now, since this democracy, it is not easy to trace the suspect,” the man said.
A meeting of young women, titled Girls Dialogue, was recently held in Olifantshoek. The event was set up by the provincial government to discuss the laws and policies concerning women and children and the main motivation for the event was to look at the increasing numbers of backstreet and illegal abortions being performed in the province.
“The leaflets and posters that are promoting backstreet abortions which are all over the street need to be looked at. They are harmful to our young women,” said Obakeng Molman, one of the participants attending the meeting.
Others commented on the widely spread posters promoting messages such as “pain-free abortion”, “no hospitalisation” and “reasonable costs”.
It was decided that the Department of Health should do more to promote their free, legal services and encourage young women rather visit their local clinic before taking uninformed decisions which can lead to dumping babies.
The World Health Organization lists the most common reasons for foetus dumping as a lack of family support, teenage pregnancies, fear of rejection, lack of support from boyfriends, stigma and financial difficulties.
Girls discussing illegal termination of pregnancies and baby dumping at the dialogue said some of they had heard of girls using to terminate their pregnancies include boiling dirty five cent coins and drinking the water, drinking StaSoft fabric softener and chewing on newspaper.
In response to these mentioned harmful practices, the girls were assured that adolescent and youth-friendly services will soon be in operation in the district.
Officials from the Department of Health’s mother and child unit said they were soon going to hold training for the new facilities and services.
The services will offer safe options for young pregnant women and hopefully prevent them from making emotional, uninformed decisions. They will also receive confidential counseling.