Originally published on bosasebele.com
When will the paradigm shift?
This is probably the hardest post I have ever had to write thus far simply because of the scrutiny I know I am going to get from it but because it bothers me so much to hell with subtlety. In fact I have had my religious beliefs questioned numerous times, “How does a Christian advocate for abortion?” If I got a thebe for the number of times I have been asked this question then boy would I be rich and I’m actually being serious about this…I would be rich.
But anyway, if you have been following my blog or if you know me personally then you would know how much I advocate for women’s rights and that I’m also pro-choice when it comes to abortion.
There is a rhetoric that a woman’s body does not belong to her therefore she cannot do as she pleases with it, A rhetoric that we need to get rid of, everybody wants to control our bodies. (By everybody I actually mean men.) Not forgetting the “abortion is murder” line that society uses on women to try guilt trip them.
I remember watching a documentary from Zimbabwe and one of the women said something so powerful and it has stuck with me for a really long time. Tendai Garwe said:
“It’s my parliament, everyone has a constituency on this body except myself and I am tired”
In Botswana, Abortion is a criminal offence according to the Penal Code, there are certain exceptions where a woman can have an abortion such as in cases of rape, defilement or if the pregnancy puts the mental or physical health of the woman at risk (just to name a few). A woman cannot voluntary enter a health care centre and request for an abortion at her own volition. If that doesn’t prove how we do not have control over our own bodies then I don’t know what will. Women resort to abortion for various reasons, maybe she just isn’t ready to bear the responsibility, and cannot financially provide for this child. There are so many children on the streets begging because they were born into impoverished families. This is the pandemic in so many African countries; I saw this happening in Tanzania too. Our children deserve better than this. Orphanages do exist but they are not conducive environments for children to grow up in. I have volunteered in orphanages therefore I have seen the environment these children grow up in, it is not all rosy.
It is quite clear that patriarchal norms still remain a barrier for women and also the failure by the legislature to enact laws that protect women and allow them to fully assert their reproductive rights. Having such strict laws has pushed women to resort to street abortions/ back alley abortions, some even drinking pills they buy off the black market which is unsafe and in some instances due to certain complications can lead to death or leave some women barren. This is real. This is happening in our communities. Our sisters are dying because of laws that infringe on our rights to privacy.
“Women deserve better than back alley surgeries that leave our wombs barren and empty……. Get the f*** out of our decisions and give us back our voice. Women do deserve better. Women deserve choice”- Sonya Renee on her spoken word piece ‘What Women Deserve’
With that said its time to all rally behind this issue. We need a movement. We need to fight because we do deserve better. It might be wishful thinking or I am just being naïve but I believe civil societies & the very few women in parliament can make somewhat of a difference.
Bosa Sebele is a Law Student at the University of Botswana,Pan-Africanist, Writer and Human Rights Activist.