Think unsafe abortions and the first image that comes to mind are young women. In many communities across the developing world, young girls are forced into ‘marriages’, sometimes far before they reach puberty.
Statistics have revealed that there is a pressing need to attend to the sexual and reproductive health of the girls who are forced into early marriages and marriage in general. It appears that an estimated 90% of adolescent girls that give birth have been forced into marriage. Married adolescent girls are more likely to experience sexual violence and encounter unwanted pregnancies – which in turn leads them to seek out abortions. In most such instances, a combination of legal barriers, cultural obstacles and economic concerns prevent these girls and women from accessing safe techniques of abortion, thereby forcing them to rely on unsafe abortions.
In low and middle income countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19. Over 4 million unsafe abortions are performed on adolescent girls in developing countries every year and adolescent girls make up to 70 percent of hospitalizations owing to complications from unsafe abortions.
The tragic fact is that all these deaths are preventable.
The World Health Organization and the International Center for Research on Women indicate that married girls are twice as likely than unmarried girls to experience sexual violence, encounter unwanted pregnancies and seek out unsafe abortions. According to the UNFPA, the use of contraceptives are low overall among adolescents who are married or in a union with only 22% of married adolescent girls in developing countries using contraceptives.
The culture of silence and inaction surrounding the issue makes is doubly difficult to deal with. There is a gross failure to respect, protect and fulfill the right of women and girls to health, dignity, benefits of scientific progress in order to ensure their own sexual and reproductive wellbeing.
For more insights on Forced Marriages and Abortion, check out this post on our blog.
For more insights on the Stigma dynamic and how it plays out in the context of unsafe abortions, check out this post on our blog.