By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu
Masvingo – Women’s Action Group has urged women to learn more about the existing Termination of Pregnancy Act (TOP) adding there is need for the existing law to be revised.
The Law was introduced in 1977 and permits abortion.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is a human right for women and the TOP specifies the sexual offences that are permissible for legal termination of pregnancy but still women do not have adequate information about it.
Interviews carried out showed that, despite having a law that permits legal termination women do not know about it and for those who do, they said the process is very tiresome and takes long.
Most women in the rural areas said the requirements and process is tiresome for one to access the services.
“I do know about the law, but the process takes long, there is need to rectify it. Not everyone has the privilege to a medical practitioner, and this means that if one cannot produce a letter from a doctor then the process cannot be carried out. Many are failing to access the services due to the whole process; it must be revised so that it is accessible for all because as it stands it seems to be discriminatory. What happens to those who fail to meet the requirements for one to abort legally, the government needs to sit down and revise the law. Women organisations should also chip in and help us,” said Pauline Dzingai.
One young lady said she thought termination of pregnancy in Zimbabwe is illegal.
“I do not even know we have a law in the country that legalizes abortion, l thought abortion is illegal in the country. I think in the rural areas we are not being equipped with information or it is just as who do not want to find out more on laws that concern us. The government should make sure that all women and girls are concertized about this law as it will help many, we have many girls who are raped and end up giving birth to those babies due to lack of knowledge,” said Cecilia Mudzingwa.
In an interview Women Action Group Executive Director, Edinah Masiyiwa said, “The media needs to play a crucial role in making sure that the TOP Act is known at the same time the language they use should not be discriminatory. A lot needs to be done to make sure the law is known and the administrative process for one to access termination services should be advantageous for everyone. People must be educated on the existing law and the administration processes must be conducive for women who want to have safe abortion. People do not even have knowledge on post abortion care services that are provided for free in the country. Those in the rural areas are being marginalised as some might not have access to a medical doctor to permit them to proceed with the abortion.”
The steps that should be taken in the country to access legal TOP are if the survivor is a survivor of sexual abuse and reports the case to the police, police will have to record the report under a Criminal Record number, the police will issue a request for medical examination form to the survivor and the survivor should take the request to the hospital for medical examination.