Zimbabwe’s under-performing economy has resulted in countless societal problems chief among them moral decadence which results in under-aged children falling pregnant and seeking abortion services from illegal backyard facilities, 263Chat’s visit to Harare’s Epworth suburb has revealed.
Epworth with a population of over 100 000 people is familiar with under-aged sex workers as young as 12 years.
The suburb also houses the popular ‘paBooster’ in Overspill where sex workers of all ages and size assemble at night for business and this has had ripple effects on the community which complains of worsening levels of moral decay.
Due to the current economic conditions, sex workers or even young girls within the suburb who engage in unprotected sex and fall pregnant are quick to seek ways of evading responsibilities hence brisk abortion business for backyard facilities including Stacey’s place at the heart of Overspill.
In an interview with 263Chat, Stacey who doubles up as a sex worker said most of her clients were young girls below the age of 18 as well as those from her trade.
Stacey who assists an average five to eight clients per month said she learnt how to abort pregnancies from her late grandfather who was a herbalist.
“I grew up with my grandfather, so I got to know most of these herbs from a very young age. l started sex-work when l was 15 so I know how to treat STIs using these herbs. That’s where i also learnt how to use mupfuta to abort pregnancies.
“We charge $30-$50 fro the backyard abortion whilst sex work is ranging from $10-$20 (short time) due to the strained economy these days so abortions are paying off well,” said Stacey.
She reckons that sex work has helped her put food on the table for the past 18 years but she confirmed that abortions have been the real deal.
“We even receive clients from as far as Buhera who come for these services and we are always ready to assist them because we need the money so its a win win situation,” added Stacey.
In her abortion activities, she collects leaves from various trees which she uses to clean the womb after an abortion session since her clients will not be able to seek formal health services.
While she is always open to anyone coming for her services, Stacey says she will not be tempted to assist certain ages she feel would be a risky undertaking.
“I am also particular about who l help abort. At one point l refused to assist a 14 year old who was impregnated by her 15 year old boyfriend from this neighborhood. l will be needing the money but by all means i would never want to put anyone’s life at risk. These are things happening on the ground,” said Stacey.
“Most of the sex workers l assist with abortions, l counsel them afterwards and refer them to family planning clinics to avoid unintended pregnancies again. ln our line of work, things can happen, condoms can burst unintentionally of which keeping those mistake children in this economy can be devastating. We are already going through enough,” she added.
Government estimates indicate that more than 80,000 illegal abortions happen every year, resulting in around 20,000 maternal deaths.
Abortion is legally permitted under limited circumstances. In accordance with the Termination of Pregnancy Act, an abortion may be legally performed if the pregnancy seriously endangers the mother’s life or threatens to permanently impair her physical health, if there is a significant risk that the child would be born with serious physical or mental defects, or if the fetus was conceived as a result unlawful intercourse, defined as rape, incest, or intercourse with a mentally handicapped woman (other sexual offenses, like statutory rape, are not legal grounds for an abortion).
An abortion may only be performed by a medical practitioner in an institution designated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Illegal abortion carries a penalty of imprisonment up to five years and/or a fine.