Centre for Solutions of Journalism (CSJ) has urged the Tonse Alliance led government to look into abortion law reforms and to enact the proposed bill which should deal with unsafe abortion among girls and women.
The CSJ made the call on Wednesday in Blantyre during a day-long training on sexual and reproductive health for traditional and religious leaders from Blantyre and Chiradzulu as the organization said human rights should be the government’s priority for its citizens without discrimination.
“We urge the new administration to promote and defend human rights for all the citizens without discrimination on the basis of one’s region, tribe, religion, gender, sex or sexual orientation,” CSJ Executive Director, Brian Ligomeka said.
CSJ’s call on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and other human rights advancement came few days after new government came into power for the next five years.
Ligomeka added that human rights should be the government’s first priority to ensure that citizens enjoy their full entitlements to attain their wellbeing.
“Our new leader needs to remember that he is a head of state for a secular nation called Malawi and many Malawians who voted for him may not share his religious beliefs but trusted his leadership skills and the promises he made,” he said.
Ligomeka added it was the expectation of CSJ that the new administration would fully support enjoyment of human rights for all Malawians which include SRHR.
“On SHRH, the government through the Law Commission drafted the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill which in embedded in a report on abortion law reforms and we want the proposed bill enacted,” the Executive Director said.
Concerned with the high rates of unsafe abortions which are responsible for complications and deaths among women and girls, CSJ is among reproductive health groups championing for abortion law reforms.
Over 141,000 girls and women in the country induce abortions every year, according to research conducted by University of Malawi’s College of Medicine and Guttmacher Institute in 2015 as the research finding revealed the rate of 38 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–49.
Coalition of Prevention for Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) Secretary General, Dr Francis Makiya said the current abortion related laws are outdated and need reforms.
“Unsafe abortions remain one of the top five causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in Malawi,” according to COPUA Secretary General who added that the yet to be enacted bill would give an alternative to safe abortion.
Under the yet to be enacted Termination of Pregnancy Bill, expectant mothers in the country will access safe abortion other than seeking other alternatives from backstreet procedures that have led to the death of scores of women, Dr. Makiya added