Tujoromajo Kasuto

THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development & Family Affairs, is conducting regional public hearings on the three petitions received by the National Assembly with regard to the legalisation and non-legalisation of abortion in Namibia as well as the call to liberalise or reform the current Abortion and Sterilization Act of 1975.

The scheduled hearings will be taking place in the regions of Omaheke and Erongo from tomorrow, Friday, 12 November, to Sunday, 14 November, 2021. Walvis Bay comes tomorrow, National Assembly Spokesperson, David Nahongandja informs.

Between 2018 and 2020, 124 women faced five years in prison for inducing illegal abortions. Last year over 600 girls who were in school fell pregnant and 50 percent of them dropped out of school as a result of unplanned pregnancies.
In addition, the Voices for Choices and Rights (VCRC) this week also announced they will be hosting conscientisation dialogues on women’s access to health, rights and women’s agency linked to the abortion law reform in all 14 regions between this month and next September.

Based on records, this will be the very first for Namibia to educate the public on their reproductive rights pertaining to the Abortion and Sterilisations Act of 1975.

The VCRC says they will conduct the dialogues based on evidence and research to support the call for liberalisation of the Abortion and Sterilizations Act, which they think continues to criminalise and control the fertility of women and girls.
It is against this backdrop that they invite the local and regional partners, intersectional feminist organisations, women’s rights groups and communities in the regions to join the proceedings, which will also be streamed online. Exact venues dates are to be communicated in due course.

From 18 to 22 October the Committee conducted consultative hearings with the petitioners, line ministries and other stakeholders in Windhoek. VCRC gave submissions in favour of the legalisation of abortion.

The Executive Director (ED) in the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS), Ben Nangombe, had stated that the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 is outdated and should be repealed to suit current contemporary issues.

Nangombe had further explained that the 46-year-old law does not speak to the current realities of today, saying it should be reviewed.

The Namibia Coalition and Alliance Petitioners, also submitted in favour of the legalisation of abortion, while the Coalition of Churches in the Omaheke Region Petitioners,Pro-Life, submitted against the legalisation of abortion.

Coalition of Churches in the Omaheke Region Petitioners member, Dr Francis Louw, had argued that abortion not only wounds the woman but society as well. He said long term side effects, such as guilt, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, are some of the far reaching consequences of abortion.

The pro-life movement in Namibia, as well as a Coalition of Churches, was adamant that no innocent born or unborn person should be killed.

Morasha Magazi, 21-year-old founder of Fetus Lives Matter, had maintained that they find the call for abortion appalling adding it is disguised with names such as pro-choice, women’s rights, reproductive rights and justice while in reality it is a call for murder (intentional taking of a life of another living being).

Magazi added that the choice they are being “demanded” to surrender to is the choice of “life and death”, questioning how is it that Namibia as a nation has “reverted to telling a 16-year-old who barely understands the concept of death, to kill her own child?”