28 September 2017

Burundi: Local Organization Pleads for Medical Abortion in Some Cases

The association of women fighting against HIV/AIDS and Malaria-SFBLSP Burundi has celebrated on 28 September the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. It recommends Burundi government to ratify the Maputo protocol to promote women's rights.

Following a high number of young girls and women who secretly aborted, there is a need for action to get access to safe and legal abortion so that consequences should be restricted for some cases.

Espérance Ntirampeba, the chairwoman of SFBLSP says the government has to adopt laws concerning the access to safe and legal abortion in case of sexual abuse, incest and when pregnancy is a serious danger for a woman's life. "We are very much concerned about the increasing number of illegal abortions performed in different localities," she says.

According to the survey conducted by SFBLSP, the number of cases rose from 158 in 2014 to 304 in August 2017 in Bujumbura city while in Bubanza province, it rose from 112 in 2014 to 182 in August 2017. In Bujumbura Province (Rural), the number increased from 115 in 2014 to 262 in 2017 while in Cibitoke western province, it rose from 195 in 2014 to 220 in August 2017.

In Burundi, abortion is however strictly prohibited by the Burundi Penal Code. Athanase Ntikazohera, a lawyer says abortion is an act against families and public morals. In its article 501-511, the penal code stipulates that the law punishes the perpetrators of the abortion and the accomplices for about one year imprisonment.

"Medical abortion for incest, sexual abuse and pregnancy at risk should be legalized to avoid any consequence and those who commit the crimes should be punished", he says adding that there is a need for the government to ratify the Maputo protocol which promotes the women's rights.

The World Health Organization estimates at 22 million every year, the number of unsafe abortions in the world, mostly in the developing countries. Restrictive laws that force women and girls to resort to unsafe abortions lead to 47,000 deaths and more than 5 million cases of complications. Risk abortion is one of the leading causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in low-and-middle-income countries.

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