Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Swaziland college principal reveals role abortions play in lives of his students

The principal of a teacher training college in Swaziland / eSwatini said at least 50 of his students had abortions in the space of a year. 

Ngwane Teachers College Principal Dr Amos Mahlalela addressed students at the college at an assembly. 

Later, interviewed by the Observer on Sunday newspaper in Swaziland he said the college in the Shiselweni region did not know where the students obtained the medication used to terminate pregnancies. 

If a student becomes pregnant while studying at the college she is required to leave and not return until after the baby is born.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, abortion is prohibited in Swaziland except in cases of necessity but there is disagreement about what constitutes a case of necessity. 

‘The majority position of commentators is that a case of necessity exists only when an abortion is performed to save the life of the pregnant woman.  However, it is possible that a case of necessity need not be so serious and that an abortion could be performed in cases of serious threat to both physical and mental health, foetal defect and rape. There is no case law on this issue in Swaziland,’ the report stated. 

The Swazi Constitution provides that abortion might be allowed on medical or therapeutic grounds, including where a doctor certifies that continued pregnancy will endanger the life or constitute a serious threat to the physical health of the woman; continued pregnancy will constitute a serious threat to the mental health of the woman; there is serious risk that the child will suffer from physical or mental defect of such a nature that the child will be irreparably seriously handicapped. 

However, no law exists to put the constitutional provisions into effect.

Because abortions are illegal in Swaziland it is difficult to say accurately how many are performed in the kingdom. However, in August 2018 the Times of Swaziland reported that every month nurses at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital in Manzini attended more than 100 cases of young women who had committed illegal abortions.

See also

Death of Swaziland schoolgirl after illegal abortion highlights suffering of women in kingdom

U.S. halts funding to Swaziland NGO as anti-abortion policy bites

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