Abortion in Burkina Faso is a subject that neither abortion providers Nor women want to talk about. Abortion providers fear criminal prosecution; women's silence is dictated more by the wish to avoid the stigma of a "shameful" pregnancy. Qualitative investigations in Burkina Faso among 13 key informants in a rural village in 2000 and 30 women and men aware of experience of abortion in the capital Ouagadougou in 2001, explored two paradoxes: what prompts women and providers to reveal something they want to be kept totally secret, and how do women keep their abortion secret while nevertheless talking to others about it? The study found that young women in Burkina Faso are impelled to talk to their boyfriends, friends and in fewer cases women relatives about their unplanned pregnancy, first to decide to have an abortion and then to get help in finding a clandestine provider. Abortion is also kept secret because it is a subject on which there is No social consensus, alongside extra-marital sexual activity, contraceptive use by young people and out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The key to keeping a secret lies in the choice of those with whom to share it; good confidants are those who are bound by secrecy through the bonds of intimacy or shared transgression.
|The World Health Organization estimates that 3.1 percent of East African women aged 15-44 have undergone unsafe abortions. This study presents findings regarding abortion practices and beliefs among adolescents and young adults in Tanzania, where abortion is illegal. From 1999 to 2002, six researchers carried out participant observation in nine villages and conducted group discussions and interviews in three others. Most informants opposed abortion as illegal, immoral, dangerous, or unacceptable without the man's consent, and many reported that ancestral spirits killed women who aborted clan descendants. Nonetheless, abortion was widely, if infrequently, attempted, by ingestion of laundry detergent, chloroquine, ashes, and specific herbs. Most women who attempted abortion were young, single, and desperate. Some succeeded, but they experienced opposition from sexual partners, sexual exploitation by practitioners, serious health problems, social ostracism, and quasi-legal sanctions. Many informants reported the belief that inopportune pregnancies could be suspended for months or years using traditional medicine. We conclude that improved reproductive health education and services are urgently needed in rural Tanzania.|