RUNDU – Several young people in the Kavango East region have rejected calls to push forward legislation to guarantee abortion rights nationwide.
Kavango East Regional Youth Forum chairperson Moses Shikerete believes abortion should remain illegal and there was no need to change the status quo. Abortion in Namibia is only allowed in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.
“I think many of us just hear that abortion is illegal in Namibia but there are those stipulated elements under which it can happen and I think that is critical. We need to look at those conditions and see if we need to add some or change some,’’ Shikerete, who was speaking during an engagement with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs at Rundu, said.
The committee is currently conducting public hearings on abortion countrywide.
“Let us study the current law, understand it and look at what is it that needs to change. We have young kids that get pregnant at the age of 12, for instance, so what some of these pressure groups are calling for is we need to look at how that child’s life is endangered and how she can be helped. We are not going to say that abortion should totally be ruled out, we need to look at under what circumstances should it be permitted to happen,’’ he said. According to Shikerete, the debate is sensitive and should be approached with caution, as Namibia is a secular state. “We shouldn’t be reckless and just change laws to fit us in order for us to be reckless in life,’’ he noted. Another youth, Petrus Mutota questioned the motive to legalise abortion. “Do you think God will be happy with us?” he asked.
Another participant Selma Augustinus wanted to know if government would be able to deal with the impact of legalising abortion, claiming authorities are already struggling to provide free sanitary products and contraceptives to women. “A decision that affects women should not be taken without women and girls,” she said.
Tuyoleni Imene feels legalising abortion would turn Namibia into an “irresponsible nation”. “We must teach our young people to be responsible and tell them to abstain (from sex) till a certain age, teach them to focus on school until they are grown up,” she said.
“The country is always not having contraceptives at public health facilities, abortion will come at a cost, can’t we use that cost to buy contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. I am just concerned about the future and the irresponsibility that young people will have if abortion is legalised.”