OKANGUATI - The executive chairperson of the National Youth Council (NYC) Mandela Kapere has called for an open-minded debate on the complex issue of abortion, which is illegally prevalent in the country, especially among the youth.
Speaking during the recently concluded Kunene Youth Development Conference that took place at Okanguati settlement of Epupa Constituency in the Kunene Region, Kapere emphasised the need for an open and unbiased debate on the issue of abortion in the country, with a view to assessing whether to eventually legalise it or not.
According to him, the issue of abortion should be discussed outside the context of religion. “We cannot deny the fact that within our communities there are many unwanted children who are left to languish in poverty and harsh conditions without proper care,” he said, arguing that at least with proper access to safe abortion such cases will be eliminated.
The discussion came about during a panel discussion on youth health and welfare during the conference, where the youth leader maintained a strong position that “whether we like it or not, abortion just like issues of differences in sexual preferences is happening within our communities”.
Kapere further expressed concern over the high number of reported cases of child marriage in Kunene, which stood at 34 percent countrywide. “We need to educate our communities and make them realise that the issue of child marriage is an infringement on fundamental human rights of those children,” Kapere said.
Kapere’s comments on the proposal for the discussion of the possible legalisation of abortion were immediately rejected by fellow panellist Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Lucia Witbooi, who argued that she will never support the legalisation of abortion as it is against Christian norms.
According to Witbooi, women who find themselves in dilemmas of deciding whether to keep their child or abort should rather opt to seek help from the ministry as it has programmes and assistance mechanisms in place to assist in such eventualities.
“Which men would even want to marry a woman who, let’s say, has aborted two or three times? If it was me I would not marry such a woman!” she remarked to the laughter of the audience, while maintaining abortion is totally wrong in modern-day society.
The three-day conference brought together over 130 youth participants from Kunene’s seven constituencies who interacted on issues such as youth economic participation and employment creation, youth sports, arts, culture and recreation, youth education and skills development, youth health and welfare as well as youth political and civic participation. The conference was organised by the Kunene Youth Forum in conjunction with the Office of the Governor for Kunene Region.
*Lot Shikongo is a senior information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Kunene Regional Office.