A woman in Swaziland (eSwatini) has been sentenced to 30 years jail with the option of a E45,000 fine for selling pills that induced abortion.
Celucolo Gaolaolwe, aged 41, herself a mother of five children, had been selling Cytotec pills for about 10 years, the eSwatini Observer reported.
Under the Swazi Constitution abortion is illegal in Swaziland except under strict circumstances, including where a mother’s life is in danger.
Gaolaolwe was sentenced at the Municipal Council of Mbabane offices by Principal Magistrate Fikile Nhlabatsi. Gaolaolwe was also convicted of forging prescriptions to get the pills.
Gaolaolwe admitted that she sold each tablet for E150 and made more than E31,000 from her trade.
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.
The IRIN news agency, quoting the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS), a family planning organization, reported that in October 2012 more than 1,000 women were treated for abortion-related complications at a single clinic in Swaziland. Many of the deaths were the result of haemorrhaging, while others resulted from the patient’s delay in seeking medical treatment for other complications stemming from illegal terminations.
In November 2012 the IRIN news agency reported that 16 percent of all women deaths in the government hospital in Mbabane that year were the result of botched abortions. It said that this figure was only those cases that were reported, there were certainly other deaths unreported.
In December 2018 the Swazi Observer reported the number of illegal ‘backstreet’ abortions taking place in Swaziland was ‘escalating’ because social media had made it easier to obtain abortion pills.
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