Connect with us

East Africa News

Madagascar’s abortion ban and the lucrative business for ‘angel makers’

One in four women in Madagascar have terminated their pregnancies, according to pro-abortion group, Nifin’akanga

Published

on

Madagascar's abortion ban and the lucrative business for 'angel makers'
Volatiana, who had an illegal abortion done on her, points out the place where she buried the fetus after the procedure, outside her house on July 26, 2019 in Antananarivo. - In Madagascar, abortion is illegal, including in cases of rape, and punishable by 10 years in prison. Three women die each day following a "spontaneous or induced abortion," according to Lalaina Razafinirinasoa, national leader of the British-based family planning NGO, Marie Stopes International. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)

Volatiana keeps her secret behind a flimsy wooden gate, tucked along a red brick wall at the back of her vegetable garden in Madagascar’s Antananarivo.

“There are around eight foetuses buried here,” said the Malagasy mother of six, standing on a narrow patch of land hidden behind a corrugated metal sheet.

With them lies a baby delivered prematurely at seven months, she added. 

“He was wailing when I put him in a plastic bag.”

Volatiana, who did not wish to use her real name, had carried them all. When they were removed from her body, she felt only relief.

“I felt a sense of release,” she said.

“Having another baby would be hell.” 

Abortion is illegal in Madagascar, a majority-Christian country that Pope Francis is set to visit next week as part of his second trip to sub-Saharan Africa. 

Termination here is punishable by 10 years in prison, and banned even when pregnancy results from rape.

Prosecution remains rare. But an attempt to decriminalise abortion was pushed back by parliament in 2017. 

With mouths to feed, no running water and an alcoholic husband, Volatiana, 44, says she has “had enough”. 

When she gets pregnant, abortion is her only way out.

Madagascar's abortion ban and the lucrative business for 'angel makers'
Volatiana, who had an illegal abortion done on her, sits in her dining room at her house on July 25, 2019 in Antananarivo. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)

And she is not alone. 

One in four women in Madagascar have terminated their pregnancies, according to pro-abortion group, Nifin’akanga.

These women, who come from all social backgrounds, abort between two and eight times over the course of their lives, said Nifin’akanga co-founder, Mbolatiana Raveloarimisa.

The association takes its name from a powerful blue-flowered herb that is often used in backstreet abortions.

‘Angel makers’ –

Volatiana knows several abortionists — “angel makers”, as they are known.

Dety, an illegal abortionist whose name has been changed for this article, infuses avocado leaves for her clients to drink. 

She then enters them with a tube or a ball of nifin’akanga and massages their abdomen to provoke contractions. The procedure takes up to three days and can be excruciating.

Another abortionist is a retired midwife, Lucie, whose method is faster and less painful.

She delivers her services at home, over a blood-stained tarpaulin amid the pungent smell of urine. 

She gives antispasmodic medication and then pulls out the foetus using a speculum and pliers.

Madagascar's abortion ban and the lucrative business for 'angel makers'
A woman practicing illegal abortion shows her working medical tools in her living room on July 25, 2019 in Antananarivo. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)

Dety charges Ar10,000, while Lucie asks for Ar200,000.

With a meagre monthly income of just Ar140,000 — Ar60,000 lower than the minimum wage — Volatiana can only afford the services of Dety, but calls on Lucie if she suffers complications.

“I wait for Friday to abort so that I don’t miss any days of work,” said Volatiana, who works as a maid.

“Over the weekend, I continue drinking the infusions and massaging my stomach,” she said, wincing at the memories.

“When I’m about to abort I ask the children to play outside.”

Surrounded by squalor, she thanks God for being alive.

“Once, I aborted twins. I almost died.”

‘Hypocrisy’ –

Abortions and miscarriages kill an average of three women per day in Madagascar, according to Lalaina Razafinirinasoa, country director for the British-based family planning NGO, Marie Stopes International. 

Each year, the charity provides post-abortion care to 200,000 women. 

Many suffer bleeding and infections after inserting themselves with banana peels, nifin’akanga, clothes hangers, bleach and ash. They are treated in public hospitals. 

“The biggest risk is organ perforation,” said Anderson Randriambelomanana, head of the maternity ward at Antananarivo’s Andohatapenaka hospital.    

“Our duty is to cure rather than castigate.” 

Raveloarimisa says treatment, as opposed to prevention, is simply “hypocrisy”.

“Why not take charge of women before all these complications arise, rather than sending them to a slaughterhouse?” 

The country of 26 million has a fertility rate of more than four children per woman. It has one of the highest rates of demographic growth in the world, of 2.7 per cent.

Volatiana could use contraception, but family planning is almost non-existent in Madagascar. Getting an appointment would cost her half a day’s work.

“The barriers are financial, cultural and linked to the availability of contraceptives,” said Razafinirinasoa.

Fear and rumours –

While some public hospitals provide birth control, their numbers remain insufficient. Marie Stopes estimates that around one fifth of women who wish to use contraception have no access to it.

The main reason is lack of money. 

Madagascar's abortion ban and the lucrative business for 'angel makers'
Medical Tools belonging to a woman practising illegal abortion are displayed on a table in her living room on July 25, 2019 in Antananarivo. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)

Marie Stopes charges Ar2,000 to fit an IUD and Ar5,000 for an implant. 

” Ar2,000 is maybe half the daily income of a street vendor,” said Razafinirinasoa. 

Many women are influenced by rumours about contraception leading to weight gain, malaria and cancer. And others face pushback from their husbands.

In Malagasy society, “the man is a semi-God” and “woman must bend to his wishes”, said Raveloarimisa.

Volatiana said her husband turned violent if she refused his sexual advances.  

“If he needs me, whatever the time, I do it.”  

In a country whose leaders are highly influenced by the Pope, pro-abortion groups are urging Francis to take a new stance on the practice during his visit.  

“Why is it that someone who has no uterus, no daughter and not even a wife has laws to dictate on women?” said Raveloarimisa, struggling to contain her outrage.   

Meanwhile, Volatiana continues to carry her heavy secret.

“Sometimes, I lay flowers there. I pray that they will understand why I chose to do what I did.”

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

East Africa News

Kenya becomes 3rd country to adopt world’s first malaria vaccine, RTS,S

Kenya, which joins Malawi and Ghana, earlier this year, commenced their own pilot vaccination programmes supported by the WHO

Published

on

Kenya becomes 3rd country to adopt world's first malaria vaccine, RTS,S

Kenya on Friday became the third country to start routinely innoculating infants against malaria, using the world’s first vaccine to combat a disease that kills 800 children globally every day.

The vaccine — RTS,S — targets the deadliest and most common form of malaria parasite in Africa, where children under five account for two-thirds of all global deaths from the mosquito-born illness.

Kenya, which is rolling-out RTS,S in the western county of Homa Bay, joins Malawi and Ghana, which, earlier this year, commenced their own pilot vaccination programmes supported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is the most advanced malaria vaccine that we have today. It has been in the making for the last almost three decades,” Dr Richard Mihigo, WHO’s co-ordinator of immunisation and vaccine development programme, told reporters before the Kenyan launch, which will expand to other malaria-prone areas of the country.

“Children are the most vulnerable group to this severe disease that is malaria, so protecting children can make a big impact in preventing malaria.”

The vaccine will be added in these pilot areas to the other routine shots given to young children under national immunisation schedules.

RTS,S acts against ‘Plasmodium falciparum’, the deadliest form of malaria, and the most prevalent in Africa, where illness and death from the disease remains high despite some gains.

The shots, administered over four doses, have been shown in clinical trials to significantly reduce cases of malaria, and malaria-related complications, in young children.

The vaccine prevented about 4 in 10 cases of malaria and three in 10 cases of the most severe, life-threatening form of the disease, within the trial group, WHO says.

RTS,S will be considered for use more broadly as a tool to fight malaria, alongside other preventative measures such as long-lasting insecticidal nets.

The disease kills more than 400,000 people around the world every year. Of these about 290,000 were children under five. 

WHO says a child dies roughly every two minutes from malaria somewhere in the world. 

Most of these are in Africa, where more than 90 per cent of the world’s malaria cases — and fatalities — occur.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

East Africa News

Rwanda agrees to receive African migrants stranded in Libya

The first group “is principally made up of people originating from the Horn of Africa,” the AU and the UN said in a statement

Published

on

Rwanda agrees to receive African migrants stranded in Libya
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. (Photo by Cyril NDEGEYA / AFP)

Rwanda agreed Tuesday to take in hundreds and potentially thousands of African migrants stranded in Libya, a deal the African Union hopes to replicate with other member states.

“We will be receiving the initial number of 500 in a few weeks,” Hope Tumukunde Gasatura, Rwanda’s ambassador to the AU, told a news conference after signing a memorandum of understanding alongside representatives of the AU and the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The first group “is principally made up of people originating from the Horn of Africa,” the AU and the UN said in a statement.

They will be housed in a transit centre in Rwanda before being resettled elsewhere unless they agree to return to their home countries.

In the chaos that followed the fall and killing of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, Libya became a key transit point for sub-Saharan African migrants seeking to embark on dangerous journeys to Europe.

The UN says some 42,000 migrants are currently in Libya.

“We have been desperately searching for solutions for those people,” said Cosmas Chanda, UNHCR’s representative to the AU at the news conference in Addis Ababa, the seat of the pan-African body.

The Rwandan government is prepared to take in as many as 30,000 Africans from Libya, though the plan is for the process to unfold in batches of 500 to prevent the country from becoming overwhelmed.

“Fewer countries around the world are more than prepared to admit refugees,” Chanda said.

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame first offered to take in Africans stuck in Libya back in November 2017, the same month a CNN report showed what appeared to be a slave market there.

The issue took on new urgency in July when more than 40 people were killed in an air strike on a migrant detention centre in the Libyan town of Tajoura.

The Rwandan government is prepared to take in as many as 30,000 Africans from Libya, though the plan is for the process to unfold in batches of 500 to prevent the country from becoming overwhelmed. 

Lessons from Niger –

The UN has been criticised for its handling of a transit mechanism for evacuees from Libya established in 2017 on the other side of the continent, in Niger.

The facilities there have struggled with overcrowding and the slow processing of asylum applications.

Rwandan and UN officials “have learned from the Niger experience and we have fine-tuned the procedure,” Chanda said.

“The process is going to be very lengthy,” he said, however.

Tumukunde Gasatura, the Rwandan ambassador, said refugees and asylum-seekers would be housed in facilities that have previously been used for Burundian refugees fleeing that country’s political crisis in 2015.

The AU hailed the deal with Rwanda as an example of African governments stepping up to solve the continent’s problems.

“It is a historical moment because Africans are extending their hands to other Africans,” said Amira Elfadil, the AU’s social affairs commissioner.

“We kept on talking about finding durable solutions. My belief is this is part of the durable solutions.”

Officials hope that other African countries will offer similar assistance, though Elfadil said so far none have been forthcoming.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

East Africa News

Pope Francis ends three-nation Africa tour in Mauritius

The Pope will celebrate mass at the Mary Queen of Peace Monument, the same hillside location where John Paul II celebrated in 1989

Published

on

Pope Francis ends three-nation Africa tour in Mauritius
Pope Francis waves as he arrives prior to leading a mass at the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace, Port Louis, Mauritius, on September 9, 2019. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Pope Francis arrived in Mauritius on Monday on the final stop of a three-nation Africa tour where he is expected to celebrate the diversity and tolerance of one of the continent’s richest, most stable nations.

Thousands of faithful gathered in the capital Port-Louis, some before dawn, waiting for the Argentine pontiff to address the Indian Ocean island, a melting pot of religions and ethnic groups.

The Pope will celebrate mass at the Mary Queen of Peace Monument, the same hillside location where John Paul II celebrated the eucharist during the last papal visit to Mauritius in 1989.

READ: Pope Francis begins Africa tour in Mozambique

“More than 3,500 of us came from Reunion” island — about 175 kilometres — from Mauritius, said Josette, who is among those awaiting the Pope.

Giant screens have been put up in Port Louis to allow devotees to watch the papal mass, and billboards adorned with Francis’ image have sprung up across the coastal city.

Pope Francis ends three-nation Africa tour in Mauritius
Pope Francis (R) arrives at the Port Louis airport, Mauritius, on September 9, 2019, on the final stop of an Africa tour. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

“It is very important for us to meet the Pope. It is an occasion,” said Genevieve, 47, from Mauritius.

Mauritius comprises four volcanic islands and lies roughly 1,800 kilometres off the eastern coast of Africa.

The population of 1.3 million is predominantly Hindu but has sizeable Christian and Muslim minorities.

About 30 per cent of Mauritius is Christian, with most being Catholic.

The island nation was briefly colonised by the Dutch, French and the British and since independence in 1968, has developed from a poor, agriculture-based economy, to one of Africa’s wealthiest nations.

It is best known for its position as a global tax haven and idyllic tourist beach destination.

The Pope is on the last stop of his tour which has taken him to Mozambique and Madagascar.

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said the Pope would encounter a “true model of pluralism” during his visit.

READ: Pope Francis arrives Madagascar during three-nation tour

“Our cultural diversity has never prevented us from creating an environment conducive to dialogue, understanding and peace,” he said.

“It will not be a visit of Pope Francis to the Catholics but to the Mauritian people in all its religious diversity,” said Cardinal Maurice Piat, Bishop of Port Louis, ahead of the papal visit.

Francis’ visit coincides with the 155th anniversary of the death of Father Jacques Desire Laval, a French priest who died in Mauritius in 1864 and was beatified in 1979. 

Pope Francis ends three-nation Africa tour in Mauritius
Pope Francis (C) arrives prior to leading a mass at the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace, Port Louis, Mauritius, on September 9, 2019. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

The Pope will visit the mausoleum of Laval, known as the “Apostle of Mauritius” for his missionary work.

Every year about 100,000 pilgrims visit the tomb of Laval, northeast of Port Louis, on the night of September 8-9, to commemorate his death.

This year, it was brought forward to September 7-8 to accommodate the Pope’s visit.

READ: Pope Francis to tour Madagascar in locally-made Karenjy popemobile

The pontiff will also visit the official residence of President Barlen Vyapoory, whose role is largely titular, and will also meet with Jugnauth. 

Mauritius has begun planting some 200,000 trees ahead of the Pope’s visit. It is expected Francis will be offering a blessing for the island’s natural environment.

According to the World Bank, one of the greatest challenges for the island is adapting to the effects of climate change — which has worsened tropical storms and floods affecting it.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending