Rape, Abortions & Unwanted Babies

She went to the village for the first time in years to visit her extended family. One day she’s home alone and her cousin’s husband enters the room where she is and locks the door. He wants to ‘sleep’ with her. She says to him ‘I’m scared, I haven’t done it before’. He says ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt’.

3 weeks after her visit to the village she starts worrying. Her period is two weeks late – normally she is very regular. So she tells her Madam who sends her for a pregnancy test. The test results come back positive. The girl is distraught. Her cousin’s husband already has two wives – he ‘got’ the second wife when he impregnated her, and her family married her off to him. She doesn’t want to be his third wife.

The girl wants a termination; her Madam says it is against her religion to have anything to do with terminations, besides it’s illegal in the country to have an abortion (at least that is how Madam has interpreted the law). As far as Madam is concerned she needs to arrange for the girl’s cousin who lives in a nearby town (the only member of the girl’s family that Madam has ever met) to come to the house so she informs him of what has transpired. Madam thinks this is a matter for the girl’s family to deal with, although she is prepared to be supportive.

Madam’s daughter is of a different opinion. As far as she is concerned the girl was raped. Besides, whether she was raped or not it is down to the girl whether she chooses to carry the pregnancy to term.

The girl doesn’t have many options in life. Her family is very poor and the occasional allowance she sends home is a great boon to the family. She cannot continue to work as a domestic if she is pregnant – Madam for one will not keep her as a domestic worker. Going back to the village she hails from is not an option as far as she is concerned.

19 comments On Rape, Abortions & Unwanted Babies

  • And this happens for too often. thanks for shedding some light on this situation!

  • Up against it… rape victims get laughed at by the authorities…rapist will invoke ‘efie asem’ clause, buttressed by ‘oba ye nka ni hu asem emra o yim’ subclause. By time, she gives birth, fait accompli, loser guy gives her a pittance for upkeep, a bleak life.

    By the way, induced abortions are a way of life in Ghana, not much spoken off, but how many indigent women and men can afford birth control. Women know that the true cost of raising a child is no joke and more often than not rests on their shoulders. There are a variety of abortifacients in use, some safer than others, but almost all part of the experience of being a woman.

    Serious issue.

    When is the Ghanaian elite going to ensure that women have the right to bear children when they want to?

  • My heart goes out for the girl but the child in her stomach has committed no crime. Abortion is not a solution to rape. Rape is a crime that must be punished but we must make sure we don’t punish the wrong person.

    If this Madam is as good hearted as she sounds, she will make sure the girl gets justice not abandonment. When the child is weaned, they can take him/her to the father. After all, he has more than enough women in his house to take care of the baby.

    I think pregnancy is often not as terminal a problem as it is an unwanted interruption. Many women have crossed this hurdle and moved on to have great lives (Oprah comes to mind). No matter what decision she takes, she should please not kill the baby. Abortion is murder and this poor young woman doesn’t have enough good reason to commit one.

  • Is abortion murder? Not by any known definition known to Ghanaian jurisprudence. The first thing to do is get rid of emotive language and to discuss the reality of being prepared to have sensitive discussions about the plight of real people. Oprah is such an extreme example that it doesn’t help anyone to base these kinds of decisions on her.

  • Since when did “Ghanaian Jurisprudence” become the yardstick for measuring Right and Wrong?
    And Babies are “real people” too whether they are a day old or 4 years old. It’s amazing how modern man will strongly advocate for animal rights and totally pretend a fetus is not a human being. What went wrong with us?

    When my mother was pregnant with me, she was a student and was under immense pressure to have an abortion. She did get one, or thought she did but the pregnancy was still there and by the time she noticed it was too late. It is the story of my life. She also played the rape card but that didn’t change the fact that I am a full human being, endowed with the same ability and grace as every other “real” human being. My mother is neither rich nor famous but I bet she’s sure glad I live and I hope you consider her a worthy example for this young woman. Raising me wasn’t easy but it was possible.

    Apartheid, Slavery, Child Prostitution, The Caste System have all been justified by those it favours. It is the way of the world. Unfortunately, an unborn child will never develop the ability to hit the streets of Soweto in revolt nor mount placards at the entrance of the European Parliament.

  • @Kinkidi, Thanks for your response on this very, very important matter, which really deserves serious consideration. Maybe we can agree on the following.

    Murder has a legal definition. What you are talking about lies outside of the law. It is a matter of ethics, morality and religion, but as a matter of law, strictly speaking, it is not murder.

    Legally speaking, and even biologically speaking, a fetus is not a human being, it is a human fetus, but it is not a human being and almost every society recognizes that distinction.

    I don’t think we’ll agree on what I say next: I think it is reprehensible that women who have been the victims of crime should be tagged with the additional label of being murderers. I think people who espouse this line are soul murderers.

    Lastly, I also believe in a woman’s right to choose. That living breathing woman, with her sense of her own capacities and circumstances, is the better person to choose when to bear a child to term and to care for that child. Not me, not a parliament full of moralizers.

  • Here we are, as always, debating the big picture.
    Meanwhile, the young lady is still pregnant & distraught but no one has asked “what does the young lady want”.
    She wants a termination.
    Offer her support & prayers.
    Then change the world by bringing these issues to the forefront. Criminal charges against the man will get other offenders’ attention. Educating people in areas where this tends to happen more often will be a good start too.

  • I think Mike has said it best.

    But @ Nana Darkoa: the madam is not misinterpreting anything. The laws of
    Ghana (if i remember correctly) do state that an abortion under any circumstances is illegal unless a doctor/psychiatrist/psychologist determines that carrying the pregnancy to term will be harmful to the mother’s mental well-being. Abortions are performed at Korle-bu all the time, though, without any consultation as to the mental health of the woman (well, we can argue that carrying a child of rape is detrimental to mental well-being blah blah blah)… but there it is.

    It is not the madam that needs changing. It is the laws of the country itself that needs changing. Then after that, individual opinions won’t matter.

  • Sorry, Mike, I thought I was unequivocal about it being the young woman’s choice.

    Darian, the laws need changing, again part of my general thesis.

  • @ Kofi A: how many indigent men and women can afford birth control? Dunno, depends on how much you need it. If you’re a sexually active “indigent woman” you should probably invest in some. Costs a hell of a lot less than having a baby, keeping up a perm, having a cell phone…a lot of things that I thought were luxuries but I see all the orange sellers with perms and cell phones.

    To be precise, a 3 month supply of Secure costs approx. 2 cedis. Certainly not ALL indigent women can shell out 2 cedis every 3 months…but a lot more of them can than actually do…education anyone?

    As to your statement: “I think it is reprehensible that women who have been the victims of crime should be tagged with the additional label of being murderers. I think people who espouse this line are soul murderers.

    Lastly, I also believe in a woman’s right to choose. That living breathing woman, with her sense of her own capacities and circumstances, is the better person to choose when to bear a child to term and to care for that child. Not me, not a parliament full of moralizers”

    I couldn’t agree more!

  • I have met 2 kinds of women in my life.

    When the Woman who doesn’t want a baby gets an abortion, she says “It was just a foetus”.

    When the Woman who is desperately trying to have a baby suffers a miscarriage, she says “I lost the baby”.

  • @Ebony Wood, education is important, I’d be first in line to support better education about choice and contraception. Question, though, who sets the education agenda in this country? Is it really pro-indigent?

    Another question: how much does 75% of Ghana’s population live on? Something less than three cedis a day. What is the discretionary income of this group? Probably less that 20 pesewas a day. So I don’t believe that the women in this group see contraception as affordable, even at the prices you quote. Even if they did, how many of them live in proximity to a retailer selling Secure? Or can afford to travel to a health center to get their supplies?

    I think the picture is more complex than setting up a stereotype of an orange seller preferring her permed hair to ensuring that she has wanted children. By the standards of income distribution, your orange seller in Accra may not be representative of the indigent in Ghana, still I would be that by the time she does the monthly math, precious little is left. And why shouldn’t she look good? Why shouldn’t the ability to communicate be available to her?

    @Kinkidi, glad that you are able to so simplify life. The women I meet have reproduction on their minds, for sure, but they also have a great deal of other issues to think about.

  • This is such a sad and sensitive issue. I envy Kinkidi that you can see it so clearly because this issue, particularly when you make it as emotive an issue as you do, is very unclear as I see it. And I’m with Kofi here: I know very few ladies who fall easily and comfortably into your categories. How about the lady who is trying to have a baby but loses her foetus who had previously had an abortion? I know of a few of them.

    If this girl wants an abortion I can definitely understand why and I’d be hard pressed not to give her the support she needs for her situation. Remember: She is supporting her family and this unwanted pregnancy will take away her ability to sustain herself, her family and any child she may wish to have.

  • @Kofi A: Of course they should look good and be able to communicate…just saying perhaps a priority shift would happen if they knew their options? Also I am certainly not saying all or even the average er “indigent” person out there can afford or has access to birth control. Just saying there are more of them who do and who can than actually make use of them because they are not aware of this option. All of those abstractions aside:

    Nana, is this a real person? If so how may an interested party get in touch to offer some help? Pce.

  • i don’t know how this is going to come across, but i might as well just say it.

    While i do think Kofi has the best points/most salient opinion, on this matter, i don’t think his snark helps any. i think the views we have on rape and abortions are different once you’re in the mix yourself. i can have my own philosophical/religious or whatever reasons for being for/against abortions, but once you’re intimately involved, everything changes. for girl who was raped who aborted, there’s a different view. for the girl who was raped who chose to carry the child to term, there’s a different view. for the girl who was raped who was forced to carry the child to term, there’s a different view. for the child of rape, there’s a different view. for the child who mother attempted to abort it unsuccessfully, there’s a different view. so yeah, ESPECIALLY with rape/abortions and the like, all views are suspect…so yeah, @ Kofi, your snark doesn’t help any. Kinkidi may be wrong (well, at least, i tend to side more with you than him/her – but since she/he says she/he was a child of attempted abortion, her viewpoint will differ drastically from you and i since we’re going into it more philosophically (well, at least i am , dunno about you)….. and allowance needs to be made for that too…..because for her it IS as simple as that. literally.

  • @Ebony-this is a real person. All my posts are about real people

  • Oh ok. Wasn’t sure if this was a hypothetical situation to stimulate discussion. In that case my second question still stands, is it possible to get in touch with her and see about helping out? Thanks

  • @Ebony – Nah, life has too many issues that on their own stimulate discussion. I appreciate your desire to help the woman in question out. I can’t see how that will be viable (in regards to protecting her privacy)

    @All – Update: Girl in question ended up having a termination. Her older brother told Madam not to worry and that he will take the girl to see a good doctor. Somehow Madam decided not to continue on her ‘if you are pregnant then you are going to have this child but it will not be in my house’ path. The girl has started to smile/laugh again. The ‘rapist’ or man who had sex with her (I am unsure which category he falls into) ‘escapes’ scot free – she refused to tell her brother who had impregnated her. The END

  • Hmm… these are very complex issues and saying whats right and wrong is easy if you’ve never found yourself in that situation. I blogged about this some weeks ago. my first blog post, actually. You might want to take a look at it. the link is – etoileoye.blogspot.com/2010/05/dont-throw-baby-out-with-dishwater.html

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